If you are in distress — suffering from the world without or the world within — remember the words of Robert F. Kennedy:
*Some men see things as they are and say ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were and say ‘Why not?’
Whatever the source, we live in a difficult moment. The therapists I know tell me they are hearing the just-mentioned external troubles bleed into their clients’ individual and personal sense of fighting against forces larger than themselves. The American Psychological Association confirms the difficulties from survey data.
It is hard not to agree.
Yesterday, however, I met with an acquaintance of uncommon bravery and resilience, who lost her husband of half-a-century two years ago. Not so long before she said permanent goodbye to seven kin, one after another. Seven is not always a lucky number.
Listen to another brave soul; another person then in the midst of both exclusive and national distress. My country in 1968 was a cauldron of frustration created by a war going nowhere (Vietnam), a failing and not always honest President (Johnson), racial discrimination, the murder of good men (Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy) and friendships torn over whether you took the side of the hawks or the doves.
The words I’m about to offer you are also 50-years-old. They come from a man, Ted Kennedy, whose spirit was tried by these circumstances, by the loss of other siblings before Robert to violence, including two brothers and a sister. You can hear it all in his breaking voice.
Yet the five-minute eulogy is uplifting as well as touching. And when it is over, perhaps borrow for your own challenges the partial antidote I referred to earlier: begin to “dream things that never were and say, ‘Why not?'”
The top painting is Emil Nolde’s 1940 Colored Sky Above the Marais. It was sourced from Wikiart.org.
*Robert Kennedy borrowed these words from George Bernard Shaw’s Methuselah: “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?'”