“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance” -Robert Francis Kennedy.
Last month marked the 49th anniversary of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, June 5th, after winning the California Presidential Primary, Senator Kennedy was leaving the Ambassador Hotel through the kitchen to navigate through the enormous crowd when 24 year old Sirhan Sirhan stepped through the crowd and fired a 22 caliber pistol, hitting the senator three times. He died at 1:44 the next morning, June 6th. He was 42 years old.
Some time ago I was asked to fill out a small profile for a new online project called Guru Nation which offers various views and ideas on numerous subjects such as marketing, finance, branding, media, and social enterprise among others. The one questions that made me search my memory more than the others was, “What one book changed your way of thinking?”
There are two books that easily satisfy that question I was asked, but it took me some thought and time to make the decision. My answer to the question on the profile was “Such a Vision of the Street”- an early but definitive biography of Mother Teresa. But after pressing the send button, I realized that there was an earlier book that I read that helped send me on the path that I find myself walking still.
It wasn’t a best seller or published by a major publishing house. I purchased it in seventh grade from the Scholastic Book Service flyer that Mrs. Gibbs would pass out each month for students to buy books that ranged from elephant jokes to short pictorial biographies of sport stars of the day.
This book cost me all of the sixty-cent cover price and filled ninety-six pages with nearly half of them photos. The book was titled “RFK 1925-1968” by James Hudson. I wasn’t all that interested in history or politics in the seventh grade, but I was well aware of Bobby Kennedy. Being Catholic, I felt some kind of kinship after hearing my grandparents (who were both Republicans) talk about him with appreciation about what he was trying to do to help those who were disadvantaged. Faith trumped politics.
It was this little book, that helped change my mind about what was important. Other things still held their significance, girls, sports, comic books, snow days and the like. But there was something about this forty-two year old senator that lost his life on June 6th, 1968 in Los Angles for something that was larger than himself.
A man that stood to improve the lot of others sent forth a tiny ripple of hope that has helped build a current that continues to touch the lives of those we serve nearly five decades later. Thanks Bobby, from that kid in the third row in Mrs. Gibbs class (the book is still on my desk).
Isn’t it amazing what you can get for sixty cents?