Thursday, June 05, 2008


What Do We Stand For?

The Liberation Of The Human Spirit

January 4, 1968

We must look not only to immediate crises, but also to the nature and the direction of the civilization that we wish to build, that we wish to take part in. The great national debate must not become a contest of only particular programs. We need discussion, we need understanding of the most basic and far-reaching goals of American civilization. But we have been told by cabinet officers and commentators, by journalists and citizens, that America is deep in the malaise of spirit, and dividing Americans from one another by their age, their views, and the color of their skin. We have fought great wars, made unprecedented sacrifices at home and abroad, made prodigious efforts to achieve personal and national wealth. Yet we ourselves are uncertain of what we have achieved and whether we like what we have accomplished.

. . . . .

Beyond our borders, we have become the greatest force in the world. Some have even spoken of us as the new imperial power. Even if we should desire such a role, it is no longer possible, as the history of the last 20 years has so unmistakably shown. The day has passed when a country can successfully rule distant lands by force. The issue for us is whether we will live as an island in the midst of a hostile world community or whether we will be joined with other independent nations in search of common goals. We must understand this, because so much depends on what is going to happen in the future as to whether this concept is clear to us. Other countries will associate themselves with us, not because they will be forced to, but because they find in our acts and in our policies a common interest and an understanding of their own ideals and their own aspirations; an understanding of the values that they can respect and admire; an understanding of the values that they can strive to emulate; thus consideration of our wealth and our power brings us full circle to the question with which we began: What do we stand for?

Robert F. Kennedy
November 20, 1925 - June 6, 1968

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