We remember the shock and fear in the air in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated. And the sadness and disappointment in that awful year of 1968 when Martin Luther King was murdered.
No one spoke more movingly about Dr. King’s death than President Kennedy’s younger brother, Bobby, who said that day, “My favorite poet was Aeschylus. 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.'”
Two months after his impromptu eulogy of Dr. King, Bobby Kennedy himself was shot and killed.
Political violence erupted again this weekend in Tucson. We again felt sick at the news, sick that our great democracy should suffer yet another deep wound. Democracy, after all, is nothing more than a never-ending dialog; political violence is nothing more than an attempt to end the dialog forever.
We’ll be back tomorrow with a regular post.
* * *
For today, we’re remembering more of what Bobby Kennedy said that day in 1968, as he — whose own voice would soon be silenced — consoled the country in its shock and grief:
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 and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country . . . .
So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, yeah 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. And we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder. . . .
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. Thank you very much.