Friday, November 22, 2013

Lessons from Tragedies...

The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy: Recollections & Relevance to today... Like so many, I remember where I was the moment I heard the news that President Kennedy was shot and killed. Far right row, third seat, Mr. John Glenwright's Fifth Grade Class, Oakland School, Bloomington, Illinois. What happened immediately after has remained with me for fifty years. When Mr. Glenwright made his solemn announcement, I heard myself say "Yay!" loudly amidst the other children reacting with gasps and reactions of surprise and shock. Knowing that I, as a fifth grader, especially one in the days of much more limited news exposure and less political awareness of the early 1960s, would not have formulated such a vocal opinion in a vacuum but was, rather, the product of influence by adults who may have been vehemently opposed to the President, Mr. Glenwright did not miss a BEAT in quietly responding, not to me, but to the class, by saying so kindly and wisely, "Class, we may not agree with our President and his political policies but we must remember that he is a man, just like I am a man, and that he is a husband and that he is a father, just like your fathers. He loved his children just like your fathers love you and now that someone has killed him, he will be missed very much by his children." At that moment, I wanted to crawl under my desk in shame. My world changed. I saw through hateful rhetoric's false mask and realized the person who railed angrily against the President was acting in fear, not fact and, although I loved that person dearly, I needed to test such virulence with the litmus test of the patient love I heard coming from this remarkable teacher. Today, we are being torn apart by such virulence...such hatred...such false vocal debasement of our leaders. Yes, they will certainly stray from our wishes, but do we not owe them the same simple understanding I learned fifty years ago? We can express our displeasure in civil ways such as communicating directly with them and other leaders, with blogs, posts, letters to the Editors and, ultimately at the ballot box. But, we must remain civil...we must not wish them harm...if we treat them with a kind remembrance that they are men and women just like us, that they are mothers and fathers, that they are sisters and brothers, I believe they just might feel and enact policy for us as if we were family, not voters. Rest in Peace, John F. Kennedy and thank you John Glenwright.

No comments:

Post a Comment