I wasn’t yet born when President Kennedy was assassinated. It was two years shy of my entering the world. (You’re all doing the math right now on my age, aren’t you?!) And yet, the images of his life and death are so indelibly etched in my psyche, as are many of his words and ideals, that you’d think I had a front row seat.
My earliest recollections of current events were of man walking on the moon, the war in Vietnam, and the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. I don’t remember a period in my life without the awareness that our time here is fleeting. (This could explain why I had no interest in playing with Barbie dolls, but I digress.)
From early on, the lesson I got from those images was that those of us who believe we could and should end poverty, racism, and war, frequently meet with untimely deaths. And yet, the bigger lesson I took away was that we must stand up for those beliefs, anyway. And so the die was cast. (And believe me, when I write anti-gun pieces for The Huffington Post and am contacted by the weapon-wielders, I question how much of a big mouth I want to have about this stuff. Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you, Texas.) I think we would be better served being armed with a good education and tolerance rather than firearms. So I can’t let it go. Nor can I let it go about our need for single-payer universal healthcare, fixing our failing public school system, ending war for private profit, and actually having liberty, justice, and equality for all.
I was looking up JFK quotes to prepare for writing this blog (I know, you are astounded that I care enough about you to do research) and there were so many I wanted to point to, jump up and down, and say, “Yeah, what he said!” that I just had to stop. But I did pick out two I thought were uncannily relevant today.
Here’s one of them to consider at this particular juncture in our nation’s history: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
And here’s another one to think about: “We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or to make it the last.”
So on this day, when we’re reflecting on an image of innocence lost, I think JFK’s words are more poignant than ever. “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”
So what idea of America do we want? And what are we willing to do to see it to fruition? What matters enough to us that it would call us to action? What is our bottom line? Is apathy really how we want to be defined when history looks back at this moment?
If you know me for five minutes, you know that I think love is the only sustainable, sane, and viable alternative to what we’ve got going on in the world. It is neither the easy answer nor the quick fix. It demands much in the way of forgiveness, and little in the way of ego. It will outlast both our mortal bodies and our petty minds. Every religion of the world calls us to embody it. Our hearts compel us to act from it. And if I had to pick a legacy, whether as a nation or as a human being, I’d go with love.
I know the days of the open motorcade are gone. That bright, smiling visual of trust and accessibility only live in our collective memories now. Fifty years later, we are familiar with armored cars, with black tinted, bulletproof windows. We know the darkness we are capable of.
But that “idea” President Kennedy spoke about, the one that lives on, lives on in us. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for and it’s high time we showed up.
And because that is the perfect segue, I am going to talk about one congressional candidate - Marianne Williamson. If you want to know why I am so passionate about both politics as well as her candidacy, this quote should give you an idea: "Politics shouldn't be the least heart-filled thing we do; it should be the most heart-filled thing we do. It should be a collective expression of our most enlightened selves."
If you are as blown away by that statement as I am, and as excited at the prospect of having her voice represent us all in Congress, please support her campaign! Marianne's campaign site
As this day of remembering draws to a close, I thank you all for stopping by and reading this. And I wish you peace and blessings.