Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King both appear in the book and are captured here, reaching out to each other, in the “Landmark to Peace” memorial in Indianapolis.
The styles of leadership shown by both of these men is very different from what I’m seeing in politics here and in the US right now. I’m reflecting on that.
Kennedy is a particular character of interest to me. A tough fighting man born into a competitive family; RFK served as US Attorney General and was, at that stage in his life, ruthless in how he went after organised crime and the mafia. He negotiated hard.
Kennedy was however open to change and as his life developed his approach softened. His successful counsel to his brother JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis showed that change of approach. To peaceably solve a situation where half of the US population believed Armageddon was inevitable is no mean feat.
In particular the impromtu crowd calming words he spoke from the back of a truck on the eve of King’s assassination in 1968 was one of the greatest speeches ever made. Kennedy and King were, at that time, both seeking to address some of America’s most intractable problems. This brought them together. Sadly the world also never got to benefit from RFK’s further development into a great world leader. 63 days later his campaign to be the next President was over, as he himself was shot.
One of RFK’s requests at that time was for us, in the words of the Greek playwright Aeschylus:
“to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world”
I’d like to echo that.
In this world we live in we’ll never make enough money, ground or goods for everyone in the world but we can always make enough love.