Wisdom Through the Awful Grace of God

“My favorite poem, my—my favorite poet was by Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.”

On April 4, 1968, Robert Kennedy spoke to a small crowd in Indianapolis at what was supposed to be a campaign stop during his presidential campaign. Instead, he had to break the news to this crowd – of mostly black individuals – that Martin Luther King, Jr. had images (1)been shot and killed. Cries rang out when they heard this news, but still, they listened to Bobby as he spoke of what our country could truly become if we fought through the fog of division and hatred seething through our country at the time.

Those words ring louder today more than almost any other time in our country’s history. We face an immense uphill climb today. Our country has continued down this path of division and hatred, and it has culminated in the devolution of man from our once compassionate and strong will towards social progress to a completely divided country and selfish way of life.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

We cannot continue down this path.

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The Mindless Menace of Violence

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Yesterday, after the unspeakable mass murder that took place in Las Vegas, I was at a loss for words as to how I would react to such a heinous act of violence. I wrote a post, instead, about how we must learn to come together, love one another and understand each other in order to break this endless cycle of violence.

Today, I am still speechless and at a loss for words, but I feel Robert Kennedy spoke just as true nearly 50 years ago about violence as it pertains to today. The fact that we still have yet to learn and understand from our fellow neighbors around us shows just how far we have still to go.

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Below is a video with the audio for Robert Kennedy’s “Mindless Menace of Violence” speech he gave the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Please give a listen and if you feel it still resonates during these violent times we currently live in please like, share, and comment below.

 

I’ve included the transcript of the speech under the video.

 

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Anger Turned Inwards Leads to Madness

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity to speak briefly to you about this mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

How could these words, spoken nearly 50 years ago, still resonate today so fluidly, so robert_kennedy_glasses_2clearly, so precisely? What are we to say when the violence surrounding us becomes so common that we become numb to the pain and aggravation it causes?

The first question that comes to our mind is: Who do we blame? 

The second question that comes to our mind is: How could this happen?

And lastly, the question that seems to forever fall to the wayside and on deaf ears too often but requires an answer is: What can we do to stop this?

Many say these questions sometimes are so difficult to answer, but the truth is they are not. The answer is right in front of you. In fact, all we need to do is stand in front of a mirror to understand the causes, who to blame, and how to stop this.

It’s us.

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I Believe That, as Long as There is Plenty, Poverty is Evil.

Take a look at that shiny new smartphone you have, or maybe the big screen TV you rfk_poorchild1have at home. Pretty sweet, right? You’ve got these great commodities which you worked so hard for and now that you have them in your life you should feel happier, right? You now have what you worked for. It’s in your life now, and you can take pride in it.

As our sesquipedalian Cheeto-faced orange of a president states so eloquently: Wrong.

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Every Society Gets the Kind of Criminal It Deserves.

And none of us are innocent. So long as we stand on the sidelines and remain bystandersrobert_kennedy_glasses_2 to the hate, ignorance, dishonesty, and apathy we will remain guilty. Our society is the way it is today because of the inability for us to stand for what is right. It’s a hard truth, but sometimes those truths are the most necessary to wake us up to what is going on around us. Sometimes we need that fall from our comfortable bed to the hardwood floor to wake us up from the figments of our imagination we’ve envisioned around us.

The hardest part, though, is the waking up.

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Welcome Back

Well, it’s nice to be back here amongst friends, those who wish to make this world a better place filled with love, hope, and empathy. I thought I could stay away from this blog for a little bit as I continued writing a book, but I just can’t stay quiet anymore. Every single day we move farther and farther into the darkness as hope recedes like low tide, and I can’t continue to watch us sink as a human race into factions that will eventually tear us apart.

So, please, do not just adjust the dials on your television sets. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, and join me in our quest to bring back the love and understanding our country once held close to its centralized heart.

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Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live. 

We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Therrfk-speech-jpg__735x525_q85_crop_subsampling-2_upscalee’s an endless cycle of death and destruction that seems to permeate itself around the world, and instead of seeking out the truth and wisdom we need to continue to live in a just, peaceful world, we cling to our fears to keep us rooted in a world of stereotypes, prejudices, and a retrograde of progress.

We build the world we see based on our experiences and the reactions to those experiences. We can take an experience we’ve had in our life and make it the very essence for our fight for a certain cause, or we can use that experience to fortify ourselves around a barricaded wall of misinformation and hate. Like it or not, we live in a post 9/11 world where stereotypes we haven’t seen the likes of since the 1920s and 1930s are now prevalent in our society. We have two paths which we can go down now: one where we learn from these hideous tragedies and come together as one human race or we can continue down the path we’re already on: one of racism, sexism, and division.

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Progress Is A Nice Word. But Change Is Its Motivator. And Change Has Its Enemies

c1b423c22e8c8a9a59a5145cae5aa4f9We now live in a society where rules have been thrown out the window. Where the idea of
a sane leader has been replaced by a hyperbole on top of a massive form of personification. We believe what we hear yet refuse to discover whether it is true or not. Why is that? Why are we afraid to uncover if something we’ve learned is incorrect or not? It’s simple: we’re afraid of change.

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Too Often We Excuse Those Who Are Willing to Build Their Own Lives on the shattered dreams of Others

No one deserves to suffer. From birth to death, every moment you live should be free of that awful burden of suffering. Whether it be that child in poverty going to sleep hungry because their family can’t afford dinner, the family ripped apart because of living in a war-torn country, or someone with a disease or disability they never asked for.

Those who suffer are the ones who grow up to feel more.kennedy_discusses_school_with_young_ricky_taggart They maintain that sentiment of what it means and feels like to suffer; and it’s those who you usually see working their hardest at nonprofits, NGO’s, within city, state, or the federal government who have suffered the most throughout their lives. They believe in the simple principle that no one in need should go without it and that at any moment they could find themselves in that same place of need.

Unfortunately, we live in highly complicated times where suffering does occur. Utopias only exist in fairy tales. Instead, we’re left with those who care less for others than they do themselves. They look to either line their pockets with more money than they know what to do with, or they’re seeking more power for themselves.

To those I say: look around at those you ignore. Look at the backs you are breaking to give yourself a lift up above them. Those you stand upon to gain whatever it is you want will always be stronger than you will ever be. They, the ones who go to bed at night unsure of what the next day will bring them, in every literal sense of the word, are the bravest souls you will find.

They will not be forgotten or disappear. Instead, they are the face for what you fear the most: progress, because when those suffering see others suffering they will band together and stand on your back to make themselves known. You cannot erase their suffering or the troubles they faced throughout their lives, but you will awake a sleeping giant unlike any you’ve ever known.

Robert Kenkennedynedy knew this before any of us, especially when he spoke in South Africa in the midst of apartheid. He knew what those who suffered could accomplish if they banded together, regardless of your skin color, ethnicity, age, gender, or whatever it was that caused the suffering. They would carry each other, even when broken and battered, to that mountaintop Martin Luther King, Jr. said he’d seen right before his assassination.

Instead of a mountaintop, though, Bobby saw those little ripples of hope we each could be in enacting change anywhere in the world. In each of us, in all of us who suffer, there is a little ripple of hope we can become even in the darkest of times, and when we merge together we can become the largest of waves powerful enough to wash away any injustice or hatred.

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

All it requires us to do is work together instead of live divided, as we do today. Families in this country are torn apart simply because of their political views when we should be cherishing the fact that we can each have our own views because in many countries around the world that right can get you arrested, exiled, or killed.

Bobby understood that we are all one human race, regardless of what you look like or what your social status is.

And as one human race, we suffer together.

So as one human race we should work together to ease the suffering in our world instead of picking fights with each other based on superfluous things.

We must love one another or we will perish.

So, once again, to those suffering: the child going to sleep hungry in what is considered the “shining city on a hill,” the Syrian refugee fleeing the only place they’ve ever known for their lives because their entire village was destroyed by fire from the sky, the black man or woman who is afraid to speak up for their rights to police officers because they’re afraid of the response being the barrel of a gun, and every single person who suffers in ways I may never understand or know of: I love you and I will fight the rest of my life for a world where we can sing a requiem for the suffering you’ve faced head on and succeeded in conquering.

– RA

To Tame the Savageness of Man

There are many moments in my life where I feel waves of despair. Days where I don’t even feel like lifting my head up from my pillow. I feel like a boulder has been placed on my chest for no good reason, other than the fact that I’m alive and reality, for lack of a better work, can suck. It can rip away your happiness in just a few seconds like being punched in the gut and leave you gasping for air. And I admit, those days are difficult to get through, some days more than others.

But, when the waves of despair pass (and they usually do), I remember Bobby Kennedy. I 13239380_963425050440812_1276804681232585690_n
remember who he was, growing up the runt of his family, always doing everything he could to prove to his father, brother, and the rest of the country that he was worth it. That’s why he came off as the tough guy at first. Two things mattered most to him: family and country. When you came after either of those two he came after you, and he’d be ruthless.

After his brother’s death, though, he began to understand that life truly was fleeting and only a speck of dust in this thing called time. It’s not about living your life, it’s about what you do with it. Sure, he worked with Joe McCarthy (which some of us forget) when McCarthy went after so-called communists in our country, and he led racketeering committees which made him enemies that outlived him and was more than just an Attorney General under his brother, President John F. Kennedy, and more of a co-President, but all those paled in comparison to what he became after JFK’s death.

He became himself.

Bobby lived in the shadows of others, always doing things to boost others to higher places of power. Once his brother died, Bobby needed to discover who he was and what he stood for, personally and politically. Everything became brand new to him, but he took that vulnerability and turned it into something that has yet to be recreated in more than 60 years. He pushed forward an idea that we can work together to solve our programs and that government can do good for the people, that partisan bickering needed to end when it came to solutions which directly impacted the lives of those living in this country. Obviously, he wasn’t the first to proclaim this type of philosophy, but everyone who met him – whether they liked him or not – knew that his belief in the idea that “we can do better” was genuine. They saw it in his eyes, they heard it in his shaky voice when he gave speeches, and they felt it when he answered questions directly rather than dodging the question asked.

He also acted on those personal feelings he had towards the issues that mattered to him most. He visited areas of intense poverty and in response launched the Bedford-Stuyvesant Project, which many do see as a successful combination of the public and private sectors working together to strike at the heart of poverty in inner cities. He spoke out against discrimination, becoming not just a favorite son among the African American community, but also the Latino and Native American communities. He understood the savagery that man could inflict each other, being involved not just in international conflicts such as the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs, but also the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. He spoke up for those without a voice or whose influence was drowned out by those with more money in their pockets or louder voices to speak on their behalf. People listened to him, yes, because he was a Kennedy, but also because when he spoke you knew he meant what he said. Honesty is rare in today’s politics.

And in the end, he tried to heal. That’s the most important part of Bobby Kennedy’s legacy that I wake up everyday thinking of – filled with or despair or not – and try to continue. There are those who suffer in this world and will continue to suffer in this world, and I will do all I can to end the suffering for as many as I can. As Bobby once said:

I think back to what Camus wrote about the fact that perhaps this world is a world in which children suffer, but we can lessen the number of suffering children, and if you do not do this, then who will do this? I’d like to feel that I’d done something to lessen that suffering.

That’s why I created this blog. To ease the suffering of others, to bring issues of suffering to light so we can fight together to end them. We can never end all suffering, but we can act together to ease as much of that suffering as possible.

So today, to all those suffering and in despair, I say to you: you are not alone, you will not be ignored, and you are loved. I may not know you, I may never meet you, but I know you are hurting and I will dedicate the rest of my life to easing that suffering.

– RA