Robert Kennedy: Leadership of Humane Purpose

Robert Kennedy’s words  touched the American spirit, transcending his death 50 years ago, with a truth that speaks to our time, too.

Robert Kennedy, campaigning in 1968

Robert Kennedy, campaigning in 1968

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our own children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

2 thoughts on “Robert Kennedy: Leadership of Humane Purpose

  1. Osyth

    I’m off to Brookline today where there is a special exhibition at the JFK Historical Site to mark the 50th anniversary of Robert’s death. I remember it so well. I was 7 years old and my father was travelling. I should explain that my maiden name is Kennedy. The morning paper arrived with headline ‘Kennedy – Dead!’ Emblazoned. I was so shocked by this dreadful revelation (of course assuming it was my missing father) that I daren’t open my mouth to reveal the source of my sorrow. Daddy came home the following day. Bobbie never did and it remains a most dreadful and un-necessary tragedy.


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