Sunday, August 21, 2005

Robert Francis Kennedy, 1925-1968

Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered personal excellence and community value in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product, now, is over eight hundred billion dollars a year, but that gross national product, if we judge the United States of America by that, that gross national product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and it counts nuclear warheads, and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

But the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everyting, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America, except why we are proud that we are Americans.

If this is true here at home, so it is true elsewhere in the world. From the beginning, our proudest boast was from the promise of Jefferson, that we, here in this country, would be the best hope of mankind. And now, as we look at the war in Veitnam, we wonder if we still hold a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, and whether the opinion maintained a decent respect for us, or whether like Athens of old, we will forfeit sympathy and support, and ultimately our very security, in a single-minded pursuit of our own goals and our own objectives.

- Robert F. Kennedy, University of Kansas, March 18, 1968

1 comment:

Diana Yee (Sas's sis) said...

Alan, you're a very good writer - its touched me. I'm glad you are contributing your intelligence and wisdom to our political system. Thank you. I hope to contribute to the environment. Maybe we'll bump at a national conference sometime. :-) Continue to have an eye-opening trip of beauty, nature, and civilization.