Sunday, January 20, 2008

What Will We Do WIth This Opportunity?

Last night, A. and I watched "Bobby," a film that came out in 2006 and is the fictional retelling of the lives of multiple characters at Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel in the hours leading up to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. I was pretty impressed with the movie, even with its not-so-subtle anti-war and anti-Bush messages (the latter being indirectly referenced in a scene where campaign workers are explaining the new punch-card system of voting, and how everyone should make sure that there were no chads hanging on the back), and was very struck by the way the movie did such a good job of what I've always imagined was the overwhelming emotion in the hotel following the shooting.

One of the most powerful parts of the entire film was at the end, as the viewer is able to listen to Kennedy's "The Mindless Menace of Violence" speech (which I had never heard). For those who may not be familiar, you can listen to it below:




I've been thinking a lot today about how much (politically) we have been robbed of in our history, and how it alway seems to happen in an almost cyclical manner (albeit in uneven cycles). The promise of John Kennedy gave way to the horror of his assassination. The momentum generated by the leadership of Martin Luther King was slowed for a time after his murder. And in the shadow of those events, Americans found in Bobby Kennedy someone who restored their excitement and optimism about the future -- only to have that, too, ended by a bullet.

Now, we're seeing a whole new time of excitement and the promise of bringing the two halves of the country together again after all the years of arguing and fighting and undercutting. Will we take advantage of this opportunity to start again, or will we let this go right on by and stick with the system that has turned 75 percent of the country against the president and 80 percent against Congress? Will we look back ten years from now and see that we used the 2008 elections as momentum to make a real difference, or will we be looking back and saying, "Nothing changed?"

I thought about a lot of this as I got out of the house today and took a blustery walk around Arlington Cemetery, stopping at the foot of the hill below the Lee Custis House and spending a few moments at Jack and Bobby Kennedy's graves. Looking at the flame reminded me of what we've done to our own country in the past, and also the fact that it symbolizes the fire that has been reignited among millions of people to make a real difference -- in their families, their neighborhoods, their cities, and their country?

What choice will we make?

3 comments:

Ed G. said...

nice post. one of the things i remember from that movie is that Bobby Kennedy announced his candicy in March of 1968. These days, by March of the election year, we're 18 months deep.

Kansas Bob said...

Thanks for posting this audio Matt.. it was a reminiscent of Camelot and of days when I was politically idealistic.

Barak Obama is the only candidate that is really inspirational in the manner of the Kennedys.. like them he embraces big government.. but maybe he is just what we need?

rdl said...

Obama had me feeling a little hopeful last night! and then i heard Caroline Kennedy say finally a candidate like her father.
I wasn't against Hillary ( i like her husband as president) but i'm growing tired of their antics.
My mind is made up.
I just worry that the Democrats can't ever "bring it" all the way (get elected) like the Republicans can. They seem better at marketing (the moral majority - for sure). But maybe the time has really come for change. It certainly appears that way. Came here looking for a post and seems like i left one.
Sorry. :D