Last night I rented "Bobby," and although the cast was star studded, for whatever reason it was unable to break through in the box office. It was not the shortage of ticket sales that I was thinking about however, but instead the striking similarities of two seemingly young, optimistic, Senators who challenged a nation divided to put aside differences and embrace hope.
For those of us who did not live through the 60s, I suppose it'd be hard for us to relate. There were no plasma screen tvs, broadband internet connections, or even starbucks at every corner. What did transcend our differences were the challenges that our parent's generation faced and the struggles that we endure today.
If you were to ask my father how he got his inspiration, he would undoubtedly take you back to 1968 and the day that Bobby Kennedy was shot. He could tell you what he wore, how he reacted and how that tragic date represented the start of his life to see that those ideals did not die with that particular young man that year but were passed on as beacons of hope for the future.
June 4th, 1968 is a day that most baby boomers like my dad will never forget. For many it was a moment in history where millions around the world mourned a man not for his actions but his power with words. While he left behind his wife and family, he also raised a legacy for equality among men, shared responsibility, fairness, justice and peace among nations. And although I cannot claim I knew Bobby Kennedy anymore than I know the candidates today or anymore than Dan Quayle so inadaquetly knew his brother, I can without question see the impact that he had. His torch was one picked up during my father's generation and carried through to ours. It was a message of tearing down divisions in our society and raising the collective conscience of us all. 40 years later that message is still being received.
40 years later this nation is still at war, where there is a candidate trying to offer a better solution of peace. 40 years later there are crowds of people following a man who is the embodiment of the America that Robert F. Kennedy so courageously dreamed of. 40 years later a man with little experience in Washington, has decided that he has the audacity to run for office.
It is a great coincidence that these generations merge at a time such as this where a country has been taken over by the greed of a few. That our nation is at the mercy of the leadership of the weak and our voice has all but fallen on deaf ears.
Today Obama is my Bobby Kennedy, whether he wants to be or not. To me he represents the real possibiliy of change for the better. His vision of America is one that I want to live in and rather than just sit back and observe, his voice has called me to action. I can't claim to have been inspired by Bobby Kennedy since it was not my generation that he was speaking to. I do hold stake in Barack Obama's words though and the strength of character of the man that stands behind them.
There are some that doubt the power of words and refuse to see their impact. These same people are the ones that didn't believe blacks and whites could sit at the same dining room table together and break bread. They are the same naysayers who refuse to understand that diversity is not something that weakens us but which gives this nation its character. They are the cowards who believe war is the answer to perceived political necessity and that our freedom of speech should not be said aloud.
The weight of millions of people's hope rests on the shoulders of this Senator who tells us that the Moses generation in America believed in the mantra of "yes we can." His words tell us that now it is the Joshua generation that must reach the promised land. His words tell us that the rhetoric of fear and hate do not lift and inspire a nation, but inevitably bring it down. His themes are words of promise, of relevance and conviction. They are however, just words.
In his eulogy, Bobby's brother Ted Kennedy remarked, "My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it." To think that a sensibility so seemingly simple could have shaped a nation is remarkable, to think that so many refused to seek out such beliefs is unfathomable.
The point is that no matter if Senator Obama does come out to be our next President of the United States or not, understand that his message like Bobby's was heard and will continue hereafter. The words that he has left for the "Joshua" generation are words that I will one day repeat to my children and grandchildren. This day, I am inspired. I should be so lucky.
Therefore, I urge you to listen to his words, to Bobby's words and then just imagine the possibilities.