What do we have when all is lost? When we hit rock bottom and feel the only other place to go is six feet under? These questions have haunted my mind for the last few months, as it turns out life doesn’t wait for you to be comfortable when life happens to you. So, I live with the scars of the past inside and out, living days of impending doom or feelings of worthlessness that cloud my mind from any objective I may be trying to accomplish.
There are days where I feel the only way out is through my own devices. But then I’m reminded of something that was said to me not too long ago that continuously runs through my mind, and it reminds me of Bobby.
While this post does speak on Bobby’s own depression after his brother’s assassination, it is more focused about the horrible truth that is slowly permeating throughout our society: suicides are up, roughly 30% since 1999. The growth of this disease known as mental illness, in my opinion, stems from a few issues that must be spoken of, put out in the open without fear, and dealt with in a manner that neither negates or punishes those who have feelings of worthlessness, depression, mania, self-harm, or suicide.
As we say goodbye to Bobby 50 years after he was taken from us, I want to reflect on the consistent message he spoke of time and time again while traveling throughout the world and the US as Attorney General, a Senator from New York, and finally as a presidential candidate in 1968. His message never wavered in any position he held. His message was stern yet docile at the same time because Bobby was more than simply Bobby. He was an ideal, and that ideal will never die, so long as we continue to heed his words.
Be warned, that this post will contain a large number of photos taken on the train ride from New York City to Washington D.C. where he was laid to rest. The pictures themselves bring me to tears, but at times when I feel hopeless, I remember the words Bobby spoke and remember that the only way forward is to do just that: move forward.
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.
I’ve been on a short hiatus because of some medical issues I’ve been having, but I’m back and it’s time to continue onwards. Because that’s all we can do, right?
Here we are. 49 years and a few hours from the moment Robert Kennedy was mortally wounded at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, with the 50th anniversary of it just a few hours away. With it came the loss of a great man, a message of tolerance and compassion, and a willingness to live a life of good during times of turmoil and distress. What we haven’t lost, though, are the ideals that make this man worth remembering.
Back in 1968, after Lyndon Johnson dropped out of the race on the Democratic ticket and his Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, took his place we began to hear something strange. There was this talk about the “politics of joy.” It almost felt like we were living in some sort of tone-deaf country. Hadn’t we just lost Martin Luther King, Jr. just a few weeks earlier? Weren’t there riots in the streets and cities literally on fire? Weren’t thousands of young soldiers dying halfway across the world? We weren’t living in a world – let alone politics – of joy. We were living in a world of impending doom.
I wake up every day and see news outlet after news outlet polluting our minds with jealousy, vanity, and cynicism. How many homicides were there today? Did they catch the guy who kidnapped that kid? Will they ever be found? And if they’re found will they be the same? The stock market’s up, though, so don’t you worry, my friend, everything’s gonna be all right.
Is this really how we judge whether we’re succeeding as a country – as a species? Is it more important to have more money in your pocket than it is to have an open mind? When did inflexibility become the new normal? You can’t have a conversation with anyone regarding any type of political theory lest you risk the conversation becoming an attack on you personally.
We live in a world where we shut ourselves up in our heads and hide there with the belief that by staying there we’ll be safe. Unfortunately, from personal experience, I can tell you that the most dangerous place in the world is the six inches between my ears. We need to be open to others – the good and the bad – and stop thinking that we can think our way out of the problems around us. When you use your own thought process to try and solve your problems you’ll be surprised at how quickly you become exhausted from going in circles, like a dog chasing its tail.
Well, then, what are we to do? We break the habit. Sounds simple, right? Just stop thinking the way you do, they say. Then you’ll get better. Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been thinking the same way for 30 odd years and to tell me to just change my way of thinking isn’t necessarily going to be fully possible. What’s important, though, is to be willing to change. To have an open heart and an open mind can be your greatest ally on the days when you feel everything is crumbling around you.
Today marks the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School, where 15 students and teachers (including the shooters themselves) were massacred in an act of senseless rage. And today millions of students across the country walked out of their schools to once again protest the heinous carnage that goes on time and time again around us with seemingly no end in sight. It’s time like these when we feel hopeless and that we are doomed to simply repeat the past over and over again.
This time, though, it’s different. You can feel it in the air. Change is a-comin’ and there’s nothing special interest groups, fundamentalists, or conservatives (with a small c) can do about it. Progress moves forward even in the darkest of times, and, just like life, it stops for no one. Winston Churchill said of America:
“Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.”
When I wake up in the morning I feel disheartened, because I feel the insignificance that is me. I think of how the world gets on just fine without anyone knowing who I am, and I wonder whether I was cut out for this world. I worry that the incredibly small amount of time I have on this planet will be wasted and I will have accomplished nothing. I will leave no dent in the universe, and instead, be left on the list of billions of unknown people who have passed on and since then been forgotten.
Then I think of what Bobby said all those years ago and I’m reminded that even the smallest person can make a difference. Just look at what’s happened in our country since the Presidential Election of 2016, since the shooting in Parkland, since the moment you woke up this morning. All of these little, unknown people made from the stuff of stars in the universe somehow made their voices of sanity rise above the fray of incredible and incoherent yelling we’re hearing every day.