Friday, June 06, 2008

Row 4, Row 4, Row 4!

I pulled whatever slender strings are within my reach and used my meager influence to get the best seats for my nephew's first-ever Cub game. Next month we will be in the fourth row behind the dugout! I am so excited I cannot stand it!

He said, "cool," because he's never been in the park and doesn't realize that he will be closer to the action than more than 30,000 people. He'll get it when we enter The Friendly Confines, though. His face will be something to see.

I must remember to bring a disposable camera so he can take his own pictures of the field.

I still can't shake it

It was 40 years ago today that Robert F. Kennedy died and it still saddens me.

Bobby Kennedy represents hope, immediacy and the capacity of people to change. As a prosecutor and campaign manager, Bobby was a tough SOB who saw the world in black and white. You were either for him (and his family) or you were against. You were good or you were bad. If you were "bad," by his lights, he was very comfortable contributing to your demise.

Once his brother became President, he was exposed to the nation and the world in a different way and it changed him. He was impressed by the power of the Presidential "bully pulpit" to inspire, he was introduced -- in a very visceral way -- to racism and poverty and their impact on different parts of the country. He learned how superpowers could avert disaster through negotiation. He was involved in the ramp up in Viet Nam.

Then his brother died and the transformation was complete. Bobby now knew that it was a mistake to assume that any of us has time. The Kennedy Brothers were going to act more aggressively on civil rights after the 1964 election. Coulda, woulda, shoulda …

The fragility of life, the arrogance of of long-range planning (as if any of us has power over fate), and inscrutability of God's will, the corrosive nature of regret … coming to terms with these issues made him familiar with anguish and helped the millionaire's son connect to the poor, the disenfranchised and the idealistic as no other politician of the time could.

During the 1968 campaign he spoke his mind. He was both awkward and eloquent. He didn't condescend to his audiences, he challenged them. Can you imagine any candidate today quoting Shakespeare and Aeschylus in his stump speech? The crowds rose to the challenge and were moved by his message. They understood him and responded a real, tactile way. I'm always moved by photos of blacks, Hispanics, blue-collar workers and anti-war activists (really, an amazing constituency) all trying to touch him.

I have outlived Bobby Kennedy, but his capacity to change inspires me. I hope I can, as he did, continue to be a better person.