Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Tribute to the Mindless Menace of Violence by Robert F. Kennedy

I was born and raised in the Boston area. It is my home.

I realize however, that it may not be your home.

I questioned whether the Hopeful Parents website was an appropriate place to express my thoughts on the Boston Marathon bombing. After much inner reflection, I realized that these recent acts of hatred and intolerance affect not just the folks who live in Boston, but all human beings on this planet who are devoted to the pursuit of peace.

When the seeds of intolerance were planted in Boston, a vicious cycle of hatred began to spread within our society. It wasn’t long before Internet chatter began to promote selfish discontent, minimizing these inhumane acts and fertilizing the cancerous spread of civil unhappiness.

If we are to put an end to the death of innocent civilians, then no matter where in the world these atrocities occur, we must meet violence consistently with solidarity and resistance, with our own personal acts of selflessness and compassion.

“Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills, misery, ignorance and violence. Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation.” - Robert F. Kennedy

The evils of hatred affect us all, including our special needs community for it wasn’t so long ago on July 14, 1933, that the German government instituted the “Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases.” This law called for the sterilization of all persons who suffered from diseases considered hereditary, including mental illness, learning disabilities, physical deformity, epilepsy, blindness, deafness, and severe alcoholism. With the law’s passage the Third Reich also stepped up its propaganda against the disabled, regularly labeling them “life unworthy of life” or “useless eaters” and highlighting their burden upon society.

Hatred reared its ugliness again on April 15, 2013 when two bombs exploded during the running of the Boston Marathon.

To me, the Boston Marathon is a symbol of inspiration, courage and hope, an event where individuals strive to become better human beings. Many runners compete to commemorate loved ones or to raise money for incurable disease.

It is a sacred event.

The finish line is a place where many families and children gather to watch their loved ones return safely from their journey. That this should be the place where bombs were detonated seems particularly abhorrent to me.

I do not know that I will ever understand such violence.

I feel an incredible sense of sadness and loss.

I am sad to be reminded once again, that I live in a world where such reckless and unbridled hatred exists.

I feel a loss for the precious lives that were taken so mercilessly, an abominable side-effect of what happens when those among us hate.

It is interesting that the lives of the four victims of this barbarous act exemplified selflessness. Again and again, loved ones described Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu and Sean Collier, as kind and peaceful spirits with a unique strength and a decency of the human spirit.

They remind me of another kind and peaceful Massachusett’s native who also lost his life by the cowardly hands of a violent other.

It is ironic that Robert F Kennedy gave this speech on April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated ….45 years ago….almost exactly to the day.

 It is chilling how relevant his speech is to current events.

For those of you who do not wish to read, I have also attached a video below of this famous speech. he entitled:
The Menacing Madness 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 matyr’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 uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

When ever any American 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 of in response to violence – whenever we tear at the fabric of 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 ballet 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 our 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 admire 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 look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul….

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 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 a 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 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 distractions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our children’s futures cannot be built on the misfortune 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 can not 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 we do, 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 us the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.”

It is interesting how the end result of this violence was the worldwide publication of Martin Henry's message to the world.

 I support his dream 

Perhaps this world is a world in which children suffer, but we can lessen the number of suffering children, and if you do not do this, then who will do this? -Albert Camus

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Lisa Peters writes more about family life at:


  1. The same org that murdered RFK staged the bombings