Culture | History | Politics

Bobby Kennedy Quotes From the Edge of the Tinderbox

We’ve all been quietly dancing on the edge of a tinderbox, alone in our own thoughts.  Until something sparks the flame, and we stamp feverishly to put them out, even as they consume us.  Welcome to 2020, the year the tinderbox reignited.  It’s been aflame before, and will be again if we don’t get it right this time.  And again thereafter.  As a student of history, I’m well aware that none of this is new.  It sometimes gets swept under the rug, but it’s not like we haven’t been dealing with racial injustice and political leadership who view those who are angered by it as thugs.  This year feels a lot like 1968 to me.  A challenging year if ever there was one.  Who better to listen to than Bobby Kennedy, who navigated the edge between chaos and order as well as anyone, until he too succumbed to a violent death.  Here are six Robert Kennedy quotes that resonate for me this morning as I contemplate the state of things:

“All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”

“What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”

“America’s answer to the intolerant man is diversity – the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.”

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

“Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted, when we tolerate what we know to be wrong, when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy or too frightened, when we fail to speak up and speak out, we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.”

“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.”

 

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