Robert Kennedy, fully Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy

Robert
Kennedy, fully Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy
1925
1968

American Politician, Senator, U.S. Attorney General, Assassinated during his Presidential Campaign, known as RFK, brother of President John F. Kennedy

Author Quotes

The responsibility of our time is nothing less than a revolution. A revolution that would be peaceful if we are wise enough; humane if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough. But a revolution will come whether we will it or not. We can affect it's character, we cannot alter its inevitability.

Time and time again the American people, facing danger and seemingly insurmountable odds, have mobilized the ingenuity, resourcefulness, strength, and bravery to meet the situation and triumph. In this long and critical struggle, the American system of free enterprise must be our major weapon. We must continue to prove to the world that we can provide a rising standard of living for all men without the loss of civil rights or human dignity to any man.

What my father said about businessmen applies to liberals ... They're sons of bitches. The people who are selfish are interested in their own singular course of action and do not take into consideration the needs or requirements of others and what can ultimately be accomplished.

The responsibility of our time is nothing less than to lead a revolution--a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; humane if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough--but a revolution which will come whether we will it or not. We can affect its character: we cannot alter its inevitability...America is, after all, the land of becoming--a continent which will be in ferment as long as it is America, a land which will never cease to change and grow. We are as we act. We are the children and the heirs of revolutions and we fulfill our destiny only as we advance the struggle which began in Santa Fe in 1580, which continued in Philadelphia in 1776 and Caracas in 1811--and which continues today.

To say that the future will be different from the present and past may be hopelessly self-evident. I must observe regretfully, however, that in politics it can be heresy. It can be denounced as radicalism or branded as subversion. There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a comfortable past, which in fact, never existed. It hardly seems necessary to point out in the United States, of all places, that change, although it involves risk, is the law of life.

When there were periods of crisis, you stood beside him. When there were periods of happiness, you laughed with him. And when there were periods of sorrow, you comforted him.

The road toward equality of freedom is not easy; and great cost and danger march alongside us. We are committed to peaceful and nonviolent change, and that is important for all to understand ? though all change is unsettling. Still, even in the turbulence of protest and struggle is greater hope for the future, as men learn to claim and achieve for themselves the rights formerly petitioned from others. And most important of all, all of the panoply of government power has been committed to the goal of equality before the law, as we are now committing ourselves to the achievement of equal opportunity in fact. We must recognize the full human equality of all of our people before God, before the law, and in the councils of government. We must do this, not because it is economically advantageous, although it is; not because the laws of God command it, although they do; not because people in other lands wish it so. We must do it for the single and fundamental reason that it is the right thing to do.

Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product... if we should judge the United States of America by that - 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 those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet 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 everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

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 the 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 only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force.

The second danger is that of expediency: of those who say that hopes and beliefs must bend before immediate necessities. Of course, if we must act effectively we must deal with the world as it is. We must get things done. But if there was one thing that President Kennedy stood for that touched the most profound feeling of young people around the world, it was the belief that idealism, high aspirations, and deep convictions are not incompatible with the most practical and efficient of programs ? that there is no basic inconsistency between ideals and realistic possibilities, no separation between the deepest desires of heart and of mind and the rational application of human effort to human problems. It is not realistic or hardheaded to solve problems and take action unguided by ultimate moral aims and values, although we all know some who claim that it is so. In my judgment, it is thoughtless folly. For it ignores the realities of human faith and of passion and of belief ? forces ultimately more powerful than all of the calculations of our economists or of our generals. Of course to adhere to standards, to idealism, to vision in the face of immediate dangers takes great courage and takes self-confidence. But we also know that only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly.

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. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them. Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

Whenever men take the law into their own hands, the loser is the law. And when the law loses, freedom languishes.

The sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country.

Ultimately, America's answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.

Yet 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 everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

The ultimate relationship between justice and law will be an eternal subject for speculation and analysis. But it may be said that in a democratic society law is the form which free men give to justice. The glory of justice and the majesty of the law are created not just by the Constitution--nor by the courts--nor by the officers of the law--nor by the lawyers--but by the men and women who constitute our society-who are protectors of the law as they are themselves protected by the law.

We are still evaluating what this decision means and what the dollar effect is on the state. But it's safe to say we're talking millions.

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 own 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 distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

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.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization - black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.... What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept 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.

The way it works is that if I bring another partner to the table, I maintain control of the account. If he brings me to the table, he maintains control. But that's a matter of trust, and you can't make that deal with everyone.

We in Government have begun to recognize the critical work which must be done at all levels--local, State and Federal--in ending the pollution of our waters.

There are children in the United States with bloated bellies and sores of disease on their bodies. ... There are children in the United States who eat so little that they fall asleep in school and do not learn. We must act, and we must act now. ... These are our responsibilities. If we cannot meet them, we must ask ourselves what kind of a country we really are; we must ask ourselves what we really stand for. We must act--and we must act now.

We know full well the faults of our democracy, the handicaps of freedom, the inconvenience of dissent. But I know of no American who would not rather be a servant in the imperfect house of freedom, than be a master of all the empires of tyranny.

Author Picture
First Name
Robert
Last Name
Kennedy, fully Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy
Birth Date
1925
Death Date
1968
Bio

American Politician, Senator, U.S. Attorney General, Assassinated during his Presidential Campaign, known as RFK, brother of President John F. Kennedy