“Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of other human beings.” ~ Robert Kennedy
Searching for a bit of inspiration on Saturday night, I popped in the film “Bobby,” the film that tells a story about the day of the day the senator was killed.
I’ve seen it a few times, so I didn’t really pay attention to all of it. But my ears perked up when it got to the end of the film, when the senator is shot. It’s in that moment that the film then tracks fragments of the remarks Kennedy gave the day after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed (“On The Mindless Menace of Violence”).
That’s where the above quote comes from and obviously leads into what is on the minds of many today. I watched the video clip that shows the murder of Derrion Albert late last night. I read plenty during the last 24 hours as the young man’s name has made national news because of the video and because of the promising life he led that met an unfortunate end. I haven’t quite been able to get it off of my head.
Of course, I wondered if the story would be as prominent as it has become had the video not surfaced. Two other Chicago teens have been killed this month and seven others shot and a similar tale played out in Kansas City earlier this month as a 22-year-old youth pastor was gunned down after accidentally cutting pff another driver. National headlines haven’t followed those recent events, though there have been several other incidents of national prominence in recent years and little seems to have changed for the better.
I thought about the young men who’ve been charged with Albert’s murder, and how their lives are now forever altered, now void of direction and much hope. I’ve wondered about the different things their parents have said in regards to the incident, one even going so far as to say that she doesn’t believe her son did such a thing, and wonder what roles those parents have played in their sons’ lives.
But more than anything, I’ve been wondering what must go through a person’s mind to carry out such senseless behavior, what purpose is there and what good one could possibly see coming from such an incident. If you watch the video, and I don’t recommend it, there’s a point where you can tell that everyone realizes that they’ve done something terribly wrong. And you just wonder, what they’re thinking in the moments leading upto the incident.
All this and I keep coming back to these words by RFK, words I hadn’t paid much attention to previously, but a set of thoughts that resonate 40-plus years after the fact. If you haven’t read them, I encourage you to do so (“On The Mindless Menace of Violence”). I wish these words would permeate the minds of our young people in a manner that would force them to think before they choose to act so recklessly. And maybe, just maybe there would be fewer stories like this.
But I don’t know. All I know is that I have no concrete answers. Just questions and a desire to not have to hear about stories of shattered dreams, like this one, littering the news.
Rest in peace, Derrion Albert.
“We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force.” ~ RFK