"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Mindless Menace of Violence

Senseless: destitute or deprived of sensation; unconscious. (2.) lacking mental perception, appreciation, or comprehension. (3.) stupid or foolish, as persons or actions. (4.) nonsensical or meaningless.

 Tom Stall: In this family, we do not solve problems by hitting people!
Jack Stall: No, in this family, we shoot them!

Last night as I finished my piece on bullying entitled "BULLY Pulpit" I began to research, and listen, to some of my favorite speeches in American history. The speeches were given by actors, athletes and politicians alike. As I listened to snippets of the many persuasive words used by others I began to realize that the best of speeches have a way of motivating, encouraging and inspiring us to move closer toward the person we were created to be. The words used didn't have to be uttered in perfect grammar nor did its presentation need to be eloquent enough for a queen or grand in stature, fit only for a king. Great speeches only need to honest and heartfelt with a display of humility and touch of vulnerability. 

In the end, great speeches are authentic and have the ability to refresh our soul and provide hope for our spirit.
Luke 6:45 states; "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."

I believe great speeches often display a great heart.

Not always, but often.

One of my favorite speakers, and people, is Robert F. Kennedy.

Though I identify with a more conservative approach to politics and government I have always admired RFK. He is my favorite Kennedy and one of my most admired orators. There are few men that I have spent time with or watched from afar that I admire more than Robert Kennedy. Just a side note, I have always thought that if Bobby Kennedy were a famous musician he would be Sting. Both men expressed, and exposed to those around them who were willing to listen, a brand of compassion, wit and intelligence that isn't often seen by people that have such a powerful platform and visible stage. 

The reason for me sharing these thoughts with you is because of a story I watched this evening that was reported on NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams

The story was sad and disturbing.

A former Marine, who just returned from Afghanistan and served two tours in Iraq, turned San Diego Police officer was gunned down while sitting in his patrol car on Saturday. Minutes before he was killed, Officer Jeremy Henwood bought cookies for a 13-year-old he’d never met before... and his "last" random act of kindness was all caught on tape at a local McDonald's in San Diego.

Video: Slain officer's last act of kindness.

After seeing the segment I couldn't help but think of the words I listened to last night. The words were from the April 5, 1968 speech given by RFK in Cleveland, Ohio at the City Club entitled "The Mindless Menace of Violence"

The speech was given the day after the assassination of Martin Luther King

And though the speech was given some forty years ago the message still resonates today with power, truth and relevancy. 

Below is RFK's speech in its entirety.

Kennedy speaking to a Civil Rights crowd in front of the Justice Department building on June 14, 1963.

The Mindless Menace of Violence

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others 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.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

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 others. 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.

The Ambassador Hotel - June 5, 1968

sbb  16.8.11

No comments: