Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
through the awful grace of God.
—Aeschylus (525-426 BCE)
This morning I woke up and looked at the news. A US Presidential candidate had just given a speech in which he called for Muslim immigrants and visitors to the US to face, “…extreme, extreme vetting.”
I started thinking about speeches, and the powerful megaphone of those running for the right to lead the United States. For Donald Trump, that might mean a speech promising to “bomb the shit out of them“.
But my sister reminded me of another speech by another presidential candidate at a time when people also wondered if we could survive the hatred, mistrust, and violence. It remains one of the greatest speeches I’ve ever heard.
(63 days after Senator Robert Kennedy stood on a flatbed truck to deliver this speech announcing the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King to the people of Indianapolis, he was himself assassinated.)
It was a powerful speech at the time. But resonating against the hatred and rhetoric of today, almost half a century on, it reminds us of the power and hope that can only come from love.
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black. —Robert F. Kennedy, April 4, 1968