…. i don’t really, but isn’t that the lyrics to a song? or maybe it’s ‘i’m glad i’m not a kennedy’…..
i don’t know. irrelevant. what i’m really writing about is the awesome doco i saw the other night about bobby kennedy called RFK from the This American Life series.
bobby kennedy is my new hero.
bobby was initially, in all probability, a snot nosed little rich kid. he lived in a world high above that of the rest of the american population in the land of ‘superior white men’ and his world views and politics were inevitably influenced by his extremely privileged viewpoint. ie: the kennedy’s are the sort of people i hate. how can people like that, have any idea what life is like for people like me?
but after the death of JFK, bobby started to change. i would estimate that the pain he felt, the loss and grief he struggled with gave him something that enabled him to finally relate to the struggle of everyone else. the pain from the loss of his dearest brother allowed him to feel the pain of poverty, the pain of families destroyed by war, the pain of african americans being denied their basic human rights. he came down from his pedastool and began to reformulate his views and decided that these issues were moral ones, and it was time to fight for them. he was a revolutionary politician because he wasn’t a politician. when you hear him speak he didn’t sound anything like a politician – he spoke with not so much as passion as empathy. his words came from a moral compass within him. he was a humanitarian in politicians clothing.
and then he was assassinated. and it was right after martin luther king was assassinated, and when you think about it, it is pretty easy to see how this happened, them both posing similar threats to the powers that be in terms of civil rights and the end of the vietnam war. and with the end game being, they killed him i have to admit that my first thought when i saw the doco about his life and how he evolved from being that snot nosed, rich kid, into a being a true humanitarian was not ‘wow, how inspiring’, but ‘wow, how depressing’. because they killed him in the end, and that’s depressing. if bobby had not died he would probably have been elected president and if so, the vietnam war, in all probablity would have ended a lot sooner, and the civil rights movement would have been fast tracked. so, the moral of the story could easily be seen as ‘it doesn’t matter what you do, or how hard you fight, they’ll take you down in the end’ or, in the context of present day ‘we, the 99% will never win’.
but then i had more of a think about it. and i realised that the endgame (of being shot) does not mean they won. because the movement that bobby figureheaded (not a word) came from the ground up, it was inspired by the masses. getting rid of bobby was designed to quell this movement, to deflate the mojo of the masses so much that the movement would in essence be forgotten. short term, this worked – the vietnam war raged for another 7 years, but long term…… we did win. the vietnam war did end. and the role of public pressure in the ending of the war should not be diminished. and we do have equal civil rights now and the role of public pressure should not be diminshed. killing them bought time, but in the end,
we need more bobby kennedys. not just one, but lots. i believe we could all be a little more like him and the more the better. because you can get rid of a figurehead but you can’t get rid of a movement. we need to all be so vocal about what it is we care about that getting rid of a figurehead would do nothing to diminish what we stand for.
in this way, bobby is inspiring. he showed us how to act, how to fight, how to be strong, how to use our pain for the better good of all.
we are the 99%. we will prevail.