“Dangerous changes in American life are indicated by what is going on in America today. Disaster is our destiny unless we reinstall the toughness, the moral idealism which had guided this nation during its history. The paramount interest in oneself, for money, for material goods, for security, must be replaced by an interest in one another 0 an actual, not just a vocal, interest in our country; a search for adventure, a willingness to fight, and a will to win; a desire to serve our community, our schools, our nation.
So if we are uneasy about our country today, perhaps it is because we are truer to our principles that we realise, because we know that our happiness will come not from goods we have but from the good we do together”
“Debate and dissent are the very heart of the American process. We have followed the wisdom of Greece : ‘All things are to be examined and brought into question. There is no limit set to thought’
Our ideal of America is a nation in which justice is done; and therefore, the continued existence of injustice – of unnecessary, inexcusable poverty in this most favoured of nations – this knowledge erodes our ideal of America, our basic sense of who and what we are. It is, in the deepest sense of the word demoralising 0 to all of us.
P19 – An American Spirit
As long as men are hungry, and their children uneducated, and their crops destroyed by pestilence, the American Revolution will have a part to play. As long as men are not free – in their lives and their options, their speech and their knowledge – that long will the American Revolution not be finished
P21 – An American Spirit
Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over eight hundred billion dollars a year, but that GNP — if we should judge America by that — counts air pollution and cigarette advertising and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armoured cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.
P22 – An American Spirit
But one thing at least unites all of us – and that is our love of our common soil, and our anguish. Anguish as we face a future that closes up a little every day, as we face the threat of a degrading struggle, of an economic disequilibrium that is already serious and is increasing every day, that may reach the point where no effort will be able to revive Algeria for a long time to come – Albert Camus
P37 – Seeking a better world
He is told that Negros are making progress. But what can that mean to him? He cannot experience the progress of others, nor should we seriously expect him to feel grateful because he is no longer a slave, or because he can vote, or eat at some lunch counters. He sees only the misery of his present and of darkening years ahead. Others tell him to work his way up as other minorities have done; and so he must. For he knows and we know that only by his own efforts and his own labour will the Negro come to full equality
P39 – Seeking a better world
But as we are learning now, it is one thing to assure a man the legal right to eat in a restaurant; it is another thing to assure that he can earn the money to eat there.
P47 – Seeking a better world
We have a responsibility to the victims of crime and violence. It is a responsibility to think not only of our own convenience but of the tragedy of sudden death. It is a responsibility to put away childish things, to make the possession and use of firearms a matter undertaken only by serious people who will use them with the restraint and maturity that their dangerous nature deserves – and demands.
Some look for scapegoats, other look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: Violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.
The enemies of [achieving equality] are not the black man or the white man. The enemies are fear and indifference. They are hatred and, above all, letting momentary passion blind us to a clear reasoned understanding if the realities of our land.
The task of leadership, the first task of concerned people, is not to condemn or castigate or deplore; it is to search out the reason for disillusionment and alienation, the rational of protests and dissent – perhaps, indeed, to learn from it. And we may find that we learn most of all from those political and social dissenters whose differences with us are most grave; for among the young , as among adults, the sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country.
Source: Make gentle the life of the world – By: Robert Kennedy