"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

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Friend: a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends of the Boston Symphony. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?

"The Boys in a Pasture" (1874)
-Homer Winslow 

 "One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
-Proverbs 18:24 

Below is an email I received from a good friend. We are part of a small Bible study  group, a band of brothers, that meets each Wednesday morning at 7am at the Joseph building downtown. Over the past 4 months we have seen professional promotions within the group, new marriages and spouses interested in knowing more about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We've also seen a newborn child pass away within hours of the child's birth, and most recently, one of our "brothers" has seen his new son come into the world with his wife being diagnosed with a brain tumor three weeks after the birth. She is currently on chemotherapy after what we hope was a successful surgery. My mom says that God reminds us in His word that it rains on the "just and unjust." Whether it rains or shines we will move forward serving our Lord and Savior, and growing in our walk with God. Thanks Ben for the great email and reminding me that he who has friends must first show himself friendly. I love you Brother.... sbb



It is such a blessing to have you here with me.  I appreciated the out pouring of support this morning. I am further convicted of my need for this prayer - the prayer for humility. I share it with you as promised.

I have added another person to the group email - Greg Bixler. He is a husband, father and faithful brother.  He is also the founder and President of Design Outreach and may join us next week.

I pray for each of you fervently, more fervently than ever.  


Deliver & Desire

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 

That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

sbb 24.7.13


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Losing the RACE: My Trayvon Martin Take (3.28.12)

I wrote this piece on March 28, 2012. After last night's verdict my opinion hasn't changed concerning the case and the issue of race. The only thing that I would add is that the "special" prosecution should be embarrassed and held accountable for falling prey to a politically motivated agenda that was centered around race baiting and racial fears, and not the facts. The facts supported manslaughter not 2nd degree murder. They, the special prosecution, should've known better and if they didn't know better they were over their collective heads in the positions they held. Nobody won yesterday. I would also like to say for our President, a man I deeply admire and respect, to comment about that case at the time he did showed a high level of irresponsibility on his part. His words indirectly and directly raised the level of concern in the case and aided the prosecution in becoming dizzy and drunk with the visions of a politically favorable and unrealistic verdict without the evidence to support such an outcome. Sad day in America for everyone involved.

Senseless: destitute or deprived of sensation; unconscious. Lacking mental perception, appreciation, or comprehension. Stupid or foolish, as a persons or actions.

Trayvon Martin
2.5.95 - 2.26.12

Track is a beautiful sport. 

Many times as I watch my son run track I'm amazed at the graceful athletic ability, mental toughness and unbelievable physical stamina one must have to compete in this sport at a high level. The true essence of the sport is embodied in the fact that countless hours are spent in training only to have fractions of a second separate first from last; winning versus losing. 

I believe the same to be true when analyzing the differences we have with our fellow man concerning most of the issues that hold our country hostage, depriving maximum growth; individually and collectively. 

We often have more in common than we care to realize or objectively recognize.

The tragic death of Trayvon Martin is no different.

Many of the people reading this right now are parents of a young boy, have a teenage brother or were a young teenager at one time. Some reading these words are grandparents to a high school aged boy, are the neighbor of a young boy or have had young teenage boys in their house.

In every instance - or at least it would be my hope - the goal is not to harm, but to love those children. Every parent is different, but we are all the same when it comes to our children; we want to insure their safety, provide them with the best opportunities to succeed and we never want to see them harmed or hurt.

I believe those qualities to be universal when it comes to being a parent.

We all want the best for our child. 
So as I reflect upon the tragedy that took place on February 26th of this year I'm saddened, perplexed and disappointed with the aftermath and the fallout from this senseless calamity.

In the end, I believe that there is very little that separates us as Americans concerning this issue no matter the reporting by the media stating otherwise or the agenda that is not so indirectly, or sublimely, peddled by those who would much rather divide us than unite us. 

I will say it again, "We have more in common than we realize"

Many, if not all of us, hold onto the same beliefs and entertain the same desires. The only difference is how we go about achieving them.

Much like the piece I wrote on Caylee and Casey Anthony last August my purpose and desire is not to spend time on the guilt or innocence of the gunman, the culpability of said gunman or victim, nor is it my intent to state my opinion as fact or as the final say, or provide a self-righteous judgment in the matter. 

I don't have all the answers and I'm pretty sure I don't have all the questions either.
My main goal is to share my perspective in a reasonable and rational manner, eliminating emotion as the only mental and logical faculty that I chose to entertain. In the end, if it's at all possible, I want to look at this horrible circumstance in a much larger context, not demeaning or brushing aside the death of the young boy, but gaining a greater understanding by evaluating if we really do have more in common when it comes to this tragic happening and in the larger subject matter; the issue of race in America.

When I look at the fallout from the Trayvon Martin death a few things come immediately to mind. 

Allow me to share.

The first thing that came to my mind when the story was first reported was the first thing that often comes to my mind when someone arrives at his/her final resting place and destination via avoidable violence; SENSELESS.
Whether it be Caylee Anthony, the 17 Afghans that were helplessly slaughtered by Robert Bales or Trayvon Martin, in each instance the violence was unwarranted and senseless; void of reason or any logic. Jeremiah 17:9 states; "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Matthew 15:19 goes on to say; "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." Both of these pieces of scripture give me a tremendous amount of perspective and considerable pause during times of seemingly senseless violence. The human heart is evil. Does this mean we all will go out kill someone tonight? Absolutely not. But what I believe is important to note is that the human heart has the ability to commit heinous acts, and cause great pain and distress for its fellowman. 

The incident concerning Trayvon Martin is a sad example of this fact.

In many instances in America when an unfortunate circumstance falls upon an individual or a community of people there is often a passionate voice that will be heard above the roar and disappointment. Often a figure will appear that stands upon the foundation that is called courage and emerges as a strong personality that will lead with vigilance and focus. The unfortunate thing is that in the area of race relations, and issues concerning race, the exploitation, and political agenda, is as important, if not more, than the troubling issue or circumstance at hand. Too many times an unfortunate situation that occurs with racial overtones will often become the new rhetorical staring point to refine and define speaking points that promote an agenda of division and create an opportunity for a specific segment of society to embrace the victimhood rhetoric over a potential victorious outcome.

The "Misery Merchants", as Tammy Bruce refers to them in her book; "The New Thought Police", are people like Jesse Jackson, Julian Bond, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan and Congresswomen Maxine Waters who's constant message and theme is based upon "perpetual victimhood, the myth of rampant racism, the myth of hate crimes and the myth of a conspiracy among whites to keep blacks down."

I agree. 

Do I believe all of the accomplishments of the people I mentioned above have been self serving, void of any merit, and without any good and positive transformation? Absolutely not. Jessie Jackson, Julian Bond and Al Sharpton have been part of many positive movements that our country has benefited from. So with that being said, it is not my desire or intent to slander their character. At the end of the day, I don't know them personally and to cast stones of hatred and venom would be irresponsible, counter-productive and clumsy. Again, with that being said, I have also seen them operate in situations like Trayvon Martin before and I'm more than disturbed and disappointed by their actions, behavior and rhetoric once again.

Disappointed and disturbed, but not shocked. 
Do I believe there are people that have an agenda that is fueled by racism and have a desire to thwart the progress and success for people of color and for all minorities? Yes. Do I believe that there are hate crimes committed against minorities and people that are gay? Yes. The only difference is that I believe the people that think that way are a small portion of our society and represent what is wrong with America, and are in no way reflective of the majority of Americans today. The race demagogues of the 21st century would have you believe otherwise. Their agenda is based on a narrative that was produced during the 40's and 50's and the civil rights movements of the 60's. A narrative that was in pursuit of equal rights and a more color-blind society; a pursuit that was pure, noble and one that was greatly needed. The Civil Rights movement was I believe the greatest movement in our country's history, second only to the American Revolution. Both were movements; both were revolutions.

The problem today with the Misery Merchant version of a once noble narrative is that it is out dated.

There are no Jim Crow Laws, segregated bathrooms or schools. There are no wholesale "back of the bus" scenarios or illegal statutes concerning interracial dating or marriage. Are there still places in America that are unsafe for black person to go? You bet. Are there places that blacks are not wanted? Yes. But one must remember there are also places that are unsafe for whites to go and there are places other minority groups aren't welcome either.

Often we have more in common than we want to admit or recognize.

Today the rhythmic and rhyme laden divisive rhetoric that trumpets victimization is a dangerous model that is built upon division, hopelessness and helplessness; paranoia, and peddled by the Misery Merchants with the single goal being to hold onto the money, power and prestige that comes along with leading the supposedly downtrodden. Today's narrative doesn't work without a victim, sadly a black victim. 

Victimization has become an industry unto itself in Black America. 

I've always wondered where Reverend Jackson, Mr. Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan are when the little Casey Anthony's of the world and other white children of the country are senselessly murdered. You never see them taking up their cause? Why was it when the Duke Lacrosse team was unjustly and wrongly accused by a black female for rape the Misery Merchants didn't take up the young white male's cause when everyone found out the alleged victim was lying? In the end, not only did Reverend Jackson and his cohorts not speak out against the injustice, Jackson, to my knowledge, didn't offer a public apology for the tragic character assassination the young men at Duke endured in the media that was, part and parcel, of his doing. 

Chris Rock explained the reason we don't have a cure for the common cold is because there is no money in the cure. Our country spends $4.2 billion annually on over-the-counter products and that is 4.2 billion reasons why we don't have a cure for this annoying little health distraction. We can send an email to Australia in 5 seconds, but we can't figure out how to eliminate the common cold? The reason we don't have a cure is because it doesn't aid the pharmaceutical companies to create a cure; it harms them financially. 

Again, there is no money in the cure. 

The same can be said about the "Misery Merchants". They only come out when the (race) cards are stacked in their favor. They will always need a victim to create more victims and to divide everyone involved. When a white child dies senselessly the Misery Merchants don't see a victim they can use politically. Do I believe they are saddened by such a tragedy? Yes I do. Can taking a stand and a lead in the march against such atrocity(s) benefit Jackson and his partners? The answer is no. The reason being is because it has no ability to further their divisive agenda. This is also why little is done, very few opportunities are created for a photo-op and little grandstanding takes place when a black young male kills another black male (which occurs at the rate of 91% of the time in the African American community. I think it's important to note that white on white homicidal crime occurs 89%. The point being that people who live in close proximity to one another have a higher potential to act violently towards one another than people not living in the same neighborhoods. Violent crimes shows us how, still today, America is segregated when it comes to where black and white Americans chose to live. For the most part they live separately. Also, FBI numbers show that of ‘single offender victimization figures’ from the FBI for 2007 finds blacks committed 433,934 crimes against whites, eight times the 55,685 whites committed against blacks. By those 2007 numbers, a black male was 40 times as likely to assault a white person as the reverse.) because there is no money, power or political brokering that can be obtained, and because the agenda that is based upon racial victimization is canceled because the race card can't be dealt.

I will finish my beliefs of exploitation with this.

In order for the victimization agenda to be perpetuated there must be a victim and there must be a myth that is believed to be a reality. Case in point. Any media outlet that has a purely liberal agenda, and the Misery Merchants, will have you believe that most black people are poor, uneducated and in fear of racism. George Will, in his article "The Ultimate Emancipation", shared with the reader that only one in four black families is poor, and only one in five black people live in an inner city. It has also been reported in the past that there is an epidemic concerning the racist arson against black churches. The truth is there were seven times as many white churches burned as there were black churches burned during the time period of 1990 through 1997, the height of church burning in the last twenty years. Both instances are awful and unthinkable, but the only churches we heard about were the ones that ex-NFL great, Reggie White, rightfully spoke about.

Unfortunately, when we don't understand a situation or issue, and there is no search for the truth based on fact with the elimination of emotion, we often turn to our assumptions and ill-conceived perceptions when forming an opinion. And when we do that our opinion will ultimately lack credibility and validity right from the beginning.

In the end, it is a very dangerous platform to stand upon.

One last thing, in a 2000 National Opinion Poll, black American's, when polled about the issues that concern them the most, overwhelmingly stated that they were most concerned over poor schools, unaffordable housing and health care, crime, gun control and the economy. 

Racism came in at number 11 out 12 issues.

Racism is an important issue to tackle, but in no way should it define who we are as race or define every agenda we decide to pursue as a people. 

Agendas that are centered around the family breakdown in the African American community and a narrative that speaks adequately to the disturbing, and alarming, rate of black on black crime would be good areas to begin with. In order for this to take place accountability must be the clarion call of the day and it seems like no one, along with the Misery Merchants, wants to take a long hard look at some very troubling facts.

Accountability must be the first line of defense against continual failure in certain segments of the black community and it must be the new mode of thinking in order for healing to take place in many disenfranchised areas across this country.
In my opinion, another point that should be made, and vigorously reviewed, is the one that recognizes and acknowledges the issue of socioeconomic factors and the role they play. I like to refer to it as the "big green elephant that is in the corner of the room." It is my belief that if Treyvon was the son of Congressman Allen West, Dwayne Wade or Will Smith there would've been, rightly or wrongly, an arrest made in the case. As Bill O'Reilly would say: "that is complete conjecture, not fact", and with that statement I would agree, but the fact still remains the same; that is what I believe.

Most of the time the handling of these senseless and painful situations are more about money than they are about race.

Unfortunate, but I believe true.

In the end, I believe the death of Trayvon Martin to be saddening and sickening. I also believe it to be just as saddening and sickening to watch the Misery Merchants rushing to the scene to divide and capitalize on this tragic moment. 


I mentioned accountability earlier. The one thing that seems to be missing every time answers are needed and justice administered is accountability. Mahatma Gandhi once said; “It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one's acts.” In the end, none of us can claim to know exactly what happened that fateful day. What we do know is that choices and decisions were made and consequences followed.

Consequences that will last for a lifetime.  

What we do know is a man followed another person without cause or reason. We know that the police were called and neighborhood watchdog was told not to follow or pursue the other person any longer. Police reports show that he allegedly took heed and listened, and retreated to his vehicle. We also know that the victim had a choice to carry on, move forward and avoid any contact or confrontation with the person he correctly believe was following him. He allegedly decided not to do that and the ensuing incident created the ultimate, and unfortunate, consequence that lead to his untimely death. I know this isn't a popular stance or opinion, but both made choices that were incorrect and detrimental. And both will live with those decisions, and their consequences, for the rest of their lives.

Their loved ones will live with the consequences for a lifetime too.

It is very sad and awful.

Bryce & Laura (2011)

Yesterday I wrote these words on Facebook concerning the above picture:

This is my 16 year old son… I wouldn't know what to do if he wasn't here living his life and sharing his love with me. He is special, he is important and I love him with my entire heart! I love you Bryce. -Dad
The reason I posted those words was as I began to write this piece I couldn't fathom not having Bryce, or any of my 5 other children, here sharing their life with me. I can't even begin to understand what Trayvon's parents must be going through right now. 

My father has always said that no one should have to bury their own.

I agree.

When any of us lose a young child senselessly we all lose something. We lose a little bit of hope, a little bit of innocence and our faith in mankind is chipped away at. And in the same way the fractions of a second can separate runners in a race we soon realize even smaller fractions separate us as humans.

We all have the same desires for our children; we all want to experience life with health, strong finances and good friendships. We all enter this earth the same way and we all will leave this earth some day.

When you sit and reflect you realize we have much more in common than you might have thought otherwise.  

And it's because of this commonality I hope we learn as a society, and a country, that everything doesn't have to do with race.

When everything is viewed through the lens of race we soon find out that race is one "race" we can't win.

It's not even close.

And it never will be.

sbb 28.3.12

Friday, July 5, 2013

Independence Day (re-post 7.4.2011)

 I wrote this piece on the 4th of July, 2011.

Dependent: the state of relying on or needing someone or something for aid, support, or the like. Reliance; confidence; trust.

Let freedom ring!

When I was a teenager one of my strongest desires, if not the strongest, was to be free of my parents and be independent. I loved my parents very much growing up, but I longed to be out of the "house" and doing my own thing. And as I watch my oldest boys grow into men I see the same want in their eyes and hear the same desire in their voices. I tell them that being free is great, but that it comes with a price.

Freedom is never free.

With freedom comes responsibility.

Responsibilities like taxes, utilities, mortgage or rent, car payments and school loans. Most of these requirements for independence take place before the biggest responsibilities arrive: marriage and children.  

And like many young adults today who want independence from their parents, men and women some 230 years ago wanted also to be free. Americans in the 18th century wanted to free from the British Empire and it's tyranny, religious mandates and taxation without representation.

As history (see the American Revolution) would have it the thirteen colonies in North America that sought after freedom came to understand that freedom wasn't free, and that it came with a tremendous amount of responsibility. 

With freedom comes sacrifice.

Many American families today realize this truth. As our country has been at war in the Middle East for ten plus years we have seen sons and daughters lose their mothers and fathers, and mothers and fathers lose their sons and daughters. 

Freedom always involves sacrifice.

They were all lost in the name of freedom.

They were all examples of the ultimate sacrifice.

Some might have the view that our soldiers lost their lives in vain and the fight that they were (are) engaged in was, or is, immoral and while more than a few people entertain these views it cannot be denied that these brave men and women were courageous and had our countries best interest in mind while serving our country.

They were fighting to protect our national interests and to protect our countries freedom.

As I write these words I'm reminded of this past Sunday and how I moved closer to realizing that there was one that came before me that fought the good fight and died on the cross to provide me with a future and a hope and to protect my freedom.

His name is Jesus Christ.

See, while I was sitting in church yesterday a man came up to me while the service was coming to an end. And while our choir was singing and people were coming forward to accept God into their lives as their personal savior a man named "Turtle" tapped me on the solider and said; "I want to give you this, I don't know what is going on in your life but I felt compelled to speak with you and let you know God is bigger than all of it... just lay it at the foot of the cross, all the power you need is at the cross." As tears were running down my face I just hugged him and held on to him like a young boy who clings to his father when he is crying uncontrollably. 

When I let go of Turtle he revealed to me what he had given me. He gave me a small cross made out of nails that he and his comrades wear with pride. See Turtle was part of "Bikers for Christ" and they wear these 'cross' pins on their leather coats and vest when they ride. 

"Keep this" he said, "and remember the cross is all you need."

In the cross there is power.

God knew what I needed to hear.

Over the last month I have been struggling with different areas of my life. I feel as if there are times of complete stagnation in my personal and spiritual life. Often times I become discouraged and feel completely defeated by my behavior and thoughts. Many times these behaviors and thoughts do not add up to a man that profess to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

As our time together ended three wonderful men, Bikers for Christ members, surrounded me and knelt with me as we prayed. They prayed over me asking God to direct me to the center of His will for my life. And as tears ran down my face I could hear the words Pastor Tim, Turtle's friend in Biker's for Christ, said to me; "You're playing God, you're not acting like God, but you're 'playing' God by acting one way with your Christian friends and another way with your non-Christian friends." He went onto say; "You need to stop and start sharing the gospel with them, that is your responsibility... you need to start sharing today."

There it was: freedom.

The answer I was searching for, the freedom I was longing for God revealed to me through a group of bikers.

Malcolm X once said; "You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom."

I had no peace this last month and because of that very fact I wasn't free. I was in bondage while I continually wrestled with my past.

I had no peace; I had no freedom. 

I was struggling with attitudes, behaviors and thoughts that I thought I had moved on from. I realized that I was serving Christ 23/6 not 24/7.

I was wrong. I was "playing" God.

Was I committed Christian? 


Was I committed on every front; totally selling out no matter who I was with or where I was? 


I was "playing" God. 

In the end, Turtle left me with two verses that came to him as he was speaking to me. The first piece of scripture was Psalm 51:10; "Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me." 

The other was Jeremiah 29:13; If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me." 

The power of the cross is revealed in God's word.

The cross is about new beginnings and a renewed spirit.

The cross is about Love, mercy and grace.

The cross is about sacrifice and forgiveness.

The cross is about peace.

The cross is about DEPENDENCE on Him.

The cross is about Freedom. 

Thank you Pastor Tim, Roy and Turtle for loving me enough to share with me the truth and displaying God's power in your lives.

And thank you God for dying on the cross for me and providing me with true freedom.

In the end, I realized that Jesus Christ sacrificed everything so I, so you, could be free.

Lay everything at the foot of the cross.

 sbb  4.7.11

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Mindless Menace of Violence (8.16.11)

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! 
- A History of Violence 

"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." - Luke 6:45

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