Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Violence


The following in an excerpt from a speech by Robert  F. Kennedy on April 5, 1968. 

“For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night.  This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay.  This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors.  This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

“This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men.  And this too afflicts us all.  I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done.  When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies - to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.

“We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort.  We learn to share only a common fear - only a common desire to retreat from each other - only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force.  For all this there are no final answers.

“Yet we know what we must do.  It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens.  The question is now what programs we should seek to enact.  The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of human purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

“We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all.  We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others.  We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

“Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land.  Of course we cannot vanish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

“But we can perhaps remember - even if only for a time - that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short movement of life, that they seek - as we do - nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

“Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something.  Surely we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts brothers and countrymen once again.”

By the way, I had the privilege of shaking RFK’s hand in 1964, on Union Street in front of the Schenectady Boy’s Club, when he was running for the Senate.

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