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Sat Jun 24, 2017, 06:20 PM

Water Power [View all]

“First, is the danger of futility: the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills -- against misery, against ignorance, or injustice and violence …..It is from numberless diverse acts of courage such as these that the belief that human history is thus shaped. 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. “
– Senator Robert F. Kennedy; Day of Affirmation address; Cape Town University; June 6, 1966


Kennedy family historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., stated that this was his favorite section of what he considered to be Kennedy's greatest speech. While he might not have been totally objective – as he used his skills as a wordsmith to fine-tune the speech – I tend to agree that it was the most important message that RFK delivered. Indeed, it encapsulates the meaning of his presidential campaign that ended two years later.

It is a message that we should take to heart today. Not only for the encouragement it communicates to those struggling in difficult circumstances, but for the nature of the remedy he identifies. For most of his public career, RFK was a hard-nosed, often angry young man. His tactics were divisive, even within Democratic circles. This isn't to suggest that the positions he advocated were “wrong,” or “right,” for that matter. Nor to ignore his many accomplishments.

Still, the RFK of 1966 to 1968 was very different than the earlier version. Two incidents in particular began the process of change: The Cuban missile crisis, and his brother's murder. Still, there were numerous other ripples in American society that moved him along – the civil rights and anti-war movements among them. This included, of course, the violence that he witnessed resulting from them.

In another 1966 speech, in which he outlined the relationship between war, racism, and poverty, he repeatedly stated, “I find that unacceptable.” He refused to normalize the abnormal, which is something we must continue to do in the age of Trump. Obviously, it is not only Trump that is abnormal – literally, a cancerous growth on our nation. It includes not only those who accept Trump, but especially those that empower him. They are unacceptable.

Equally important, Kennedy was not advocating normalizing the abnormal by stooping to their level, resorting to their type of tactics, or reacting to their hatred with our hatred. Instead, he was urging people to use positive energy, in such a way that it sends out ripples that overcome hateful ripples. To wash away the toxic pools of a Trump with currents that reflect our values.

You can read or listen to RFK's powerful message here:

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/rfkcapetown.htm

It's those values, which are a constant among civilized people seeking social justice, that we need to be giving voice to. And not limiting that to spending time on one internet forum. It's important to coordinate it into other venues. For many people, being part of a group effort works best. That's something we have the option to work on here.

If a single forum member sends an important question to a journalist, say Rachel or Joy on MSNBC, it's possible someone on her staff will take note of it. But if ten people, or twenty or thirty, send a similar message, it becomes more likely that one (or more) of her staff will take note. And there are certainly enough good questioned asked, and important points raised here on DU:GD, that we could easily do this. It could start out as a weekly exercise in grass roots democracy, and possibly grow. And it could be a lot of fun.

Peace,
H2O Man

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H2O Man Jun 2017 OP
kentuck Jun 2017 #1
Me. Jun 2017 #2