Tonight’s post will be a little different. As I sit here, mouth agape with incredulity as I watch my fellow Americans riot and destroy our cities live on my television, I find it nearly impossible to process the turmoil of these actions. I have no words - just profound sadness. Sadness for George Floyd, sadness that racism still has a place in our nation, sadness that some people believe that the answer to violence is more violence.
As I write this, I am dismayed by the dearth of leadership that we so desperately need in our country right now. We need leaders who are willing to wade into the fray and not worry about doing what is politically expedient or have their sterilized words fed to them by some focus group. Now more than ever we must have men and women who are willing to stand up, be brave, and are unafraid to act. Not because it is the easy thing to do but because it is the right thing to do and it is what we so desperately need at this moment.
In that vein, earlier tonight a close friend reminded of an incredibly powerful speech from our Nation’s not so distant past. It is far more eloquent and poignant than I could ever hope to be, but while our world may be different, the feelings of fear, anger, and hopelessness resonate so strongly. And in that light - tonight I will simply post Bobby Kennedy’s words on the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. His overarching message remains as important today as it was 52 years ago: the basis of our great society must be love, justice, and compassion. So, I will simply say: I love you all and I pray for a better tomorrow. Stay strong and stay safe.
I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort.
In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black--considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible--you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization--black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.
Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.
My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: "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.”
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.
So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love--a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
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.
Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
Senator Robert F. Kennedy
April 4, 1968