We’ve crossed the threshold, as Robert Kennedy succumbed to his wounds on June 5th, 1968. Now, 50 years later, we come to a turning point, as we do every year where we reflect on the “what if’s” and “what could have been’s”: Where do we go from here? The answer, just as Bobby did just after the death of his brother, is: onwards. We continue his legacy, we fight for what’s right, and we continue to spread his message of empathy and compassion.
Now, on this blog, I might be beating a dead horse by continuously driving this idea, but I cannot stress how essential showing empathy and compassion are in light of today’s world. Read on to see why.
We live in a society where 99% of all wealth is owned by the top 1% or smaller. The idea that a worker deserves a fair, equal, and livable wage is on an incredible decline. Even the social safety nets we created back in the 1930s and 1940s are in jeopardy. Just this week, it was declared that Medicare will be insolvent by 2026 and Social Security by 2034. Our president is a current laughing stock of the world, no matter what political party to consider yourself a member of. We’re wiping away the ability for the individual to prosper and grow in this country in order to benefit large corporations with massive tax breaks. The American Dream, as it seems to stand, is on its last leg, with only a short breeze necessary to cause its collapse.
How did we get here? What drove us to this precipice?
You can blame it on whatever you feel is necessary for you to feel better: certain groups of Americans, the closures of many factories and the sending of jobs overseas, or a Congress that seems hellbent on only listening to those who give them the largest donations. What really drove us to this is plain and simple: we’ve lost our ability to empathize with each other and lost the idea spoken by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We’ve focused so much on the needs of ourselves that we’ve forgotten about the needs of others.
And when I speak of the needs of others does not necessarily mean material goods. I mean things like, social justice and equal rights. These two rights span nearly every group of Americans in this country. African Americans want to live in a country where they do not have to fear what could happen to them should they be stopped by a police officer. Women want to work in a place of employment that pays them equally without the fear that they’re not being paid the same as their colleagues for the same work and live a life free of harassment. The LGBTQIA community wants to live in a country where they are safe from being denied a number of rights given to those that are heterosexual: marriage, job safety regardless of sexual orientation, and even the ability to choose where to eat.
It’s despicable that we live in this society now, but it’s not too late. We have the ability to bring about changes in this country that can redeem us from a country filled with violence, inaction, and apathy. The first thing you can do is VOTE. As much as they like to make you think, your vote does matter. Second, organize. Join your local Indivisible group to find those like-minded who want to affect change from the grassroots level.
Now, this blog isn’t about telling you what to do about specifically enacting change. This blog is to honor Bobby by continuing his belief in an America that has empathy towards its citizens. The two recommendations above are just that, recommendations. We, as individuals, can continue Bobby’s legacy every day by continuing to reach out our hand to those in need and to remind ourselves that someone in trouble could just as easily be ourselves. We seem to have lost this ability to believe that we are all just one moment away from tragedy. We pass it off as something that couldn’t possibly happen to us until it happens and we hit rock bottom. That seems to be where we begin to understand empathy. Let’s not wait that long. Let’s start today. Let’s heed Bobby’s words and tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.