Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

A Promise to Keep

MLK and RFK

MLK and RFK

The last few weeks have had many of us sharing our perspectives on the elections and the state of our economy. Nearly every day since the election, Chamber members have inquired what does the future hold for our businesses.   The more I think about today, and tomorrow, I cannot help but be drawn to the events of the past…

On April 4, 1968, two hours after the assignation of Martin Luther King, Jr., Senator Bobby Kennedy spoke to a crowd composed of black and whites in Indianapolis. He said to the angry crowd, “Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and our people.”  Bobby’s words that night likely prevented a riot which swept other areas of our country.

Just a few months later on June 5th, Bobby himself was killed and the hope he spoke of during his 82-day campaign seemed shattered and for many of us the innocence of America was lost.

I was an eight year old and I still remember dad driving us home from the YMCA after a day of swimming and basketball when I heard the news.  I recall asking dad, “Why would anybody want to shoot Bobby?” as if we were on a first name basis.  To this day, I remember my dad’s ashen look back, trying to grasp words for the thoughts he struggled to find.  “I don’t know son.  I really don’t know,” he replied.

It’s been 45 years since that summer and even today, I wonder what might have been had history taken a different course.  I think 1968 was the year America lost sight of its greatness.  We had returned from a war to end all wars, became the world’s most influential country, and stood as a beacon of hope and freedom.  We loved Ike, visited Camelot, and had a Great Society.

It started to unravel with the death of a president, coming apart at the seams with Vietnam, and it was almost unbearable with the loss of King and RFK. We lived through Watergate and Nixon’s lies, betrayal, and malaise.  If Reagan encouraged us with his optimism and promises that America’s best days lay before her, Bill Clinton’s scandal left us to wonder if that promise was only a hollow dream.

I am not sure we have ever recovered from the summer of 1968 and today the partisanship in Washington threatens to drive a stake in our great republic.  A very real “Fiscal Cliff” with looming tax deadlines, an unsure economy, and a monumental federal debt faces our generation and the generations to come.

With the last election only weeks behind us, our country has not been this divided since the summer of ’68.  Yet, in the midst of uncertain markets and international unrest – there is hope and unbridled opportunity if we have the courage to seek it out…together.

ann marieAs we head into the season of giving, I cannot help but recall the words of President Clinton.  While he wrestled with personal challenges, his words spoke of promise:  “Somewhere at this very moment a child is being born in America. Let it be our cause to give that child a happy home, a healthy family and a hopeful future.  Let it be our cause to see that child has a chance to live to the fullest of her God-given capacities. Let it be our cause that when this child is able, she gives something back to her children, her community and her country. Let it be our cause that we give this child a country that is coming together, not coming apart, a country of boundless hopes and endless dreams, a country that once again lifts its people and inspires the world.”

As business and community leaders, let us enter the holiday season with a spirit of compassion for those who need a helping hand and approach the end of 2012 with a renewed promise in the future.  As Senator Kennedy asked, “Say a prayer for our country and our people” in a place called ‘Hope’ – a country of endless dreams which inspires the world…again.

Wishing you and your family a Blessed Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.

 

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December 12, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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