“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.”- excerpt of speech given by Robert F. Kennedy after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (two months before his own assassination).
Last night, I watched the story of Bobby Kennedy unfold. I listened to him give that speech. And I saw footage of his last night among us. When Rep.John Lewis began to weep while trying to describe how it felt when Bobby Kennedy was killed; I couldn’t hold back my tears.
I sat there weeping for many things. Chief among them, a nation broken when I inherited it and broken still. Rep. Lewis said that one of his first thoughts at the time was, “What is happening to this country?”. Sitting on my couch all these years later, feeling as though I’ve seen the time progression of the divisiveness and hate made my heart crack. Watching a man openly weep as he recalled years of pain was crushing.
What awaits the generation we are raising?
To my Ezra,
You have a curious mind and an enormously empathetic soul. You are both assertive and sensitive. You ask direct questions. You look for solutions everywhere. You can’t understand why anyone should be loved less. You have big ideas. You believe you can achieve great things. And so do I. I believe you were born to set this world on fire with peace and passion.
I need you to know, that not everyone will understand. Not everyone will like you. Some may even choose to hate you. When you stand up for voices being silenced, those bearing hate will try to pull you down. When you enact your intelligence and compassion in equal measure, they will resent it. When you speak of change, they will feel threatened.
But I know you will do it anyway.
You weren’t born to play small. You were born to listen, to love, and to lead. To change the world in both small and monumental ways; with kindness and strength…in love and in law. May no fear ever keep you from doing the right thing. May you bear the burdens of those forgotten. Remember, the only steps worth marching are found in God-given wisdom. The only victory worth having is one born out of love and compassion. The only change worth striving for is the change that holds justice for all.
You can find Robert Kennedy’s speech in it’s entirety here.