Bobby Kennedy once said, “There is a Chinese curse which says, ‘May [you] live in interesting times.’ Like it or not, we live in interesting times…” It was 1966.

It was a turbulent time in the world. People were taking to the streets. Social movements were rising up and fighting for justice. Bobby Kennedy was a living example of how someone indoctrinated in a culture of “might makes right” could change their whole world view. After the murder of his brother, this man of power, privilege, and (some would say) arrogance turned his focus to serving those in need – the poor, the oppressed. His personal growth brought him to a point where he was willing to put his own life at risk to do what he thought was right. His transformation fascinates me. And I wonder how we can spark the transformation in others.

This month, June 2010, marks the 42nd anniversary of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Only two months earlier in April 1968, another Nonviolence teacher and leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed. What might have been had they lived? What might have been if the efforts they were leading were more focused on the movement and less upon the perceived leaders? What if movements didn’t die with their leaders? What if each of us realized that each of us is a leader?

A student activist recently asked me with hopelessness in his voice, “Is it really worth it? Is it too late? Can we really make a difference?” The question isn’t whether or not one person can make a difference – you ARE making a difference. The question is what kind of difference do you want to make? Just because we haven’t turned things around doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying. If we don’t try, we’re just as guilty as those doing harm. Being a member of the world community obligates us to try our best with the hope that whoever comes next might do better than we have.

I might as well have quoted the rest of what Bobby Kennedy said immediately after his remark about the curse of “interesting times” under which we live, “They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of [humankind]. And everyone here will ultimately be judged — will ultimately judge [themselves] — on the effort [they have] contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which [their] ideals and goals have shaped that effort.”

Keep trying.

All one,

🙂 m