Why a hero? – Robert Kennedy

This will be another new series. From time to time, I want to share stories from heroic figures with you. Or at least what I consider to be heroic. I think it is good to have those stories which stem from real people and are not from our favorite movies. If you are not sure why it matters to have a hero in the first place, you can have a look at this entry.

What does it mean to be a hero? The first idea might be to think of all the characters in movies and books. Good movies and books show a multifaceted character. They are often neither completely good nor completely bad. There is more grey than black and white. And I like that. We all are not black or white. We have good moments and bad moments. We are able to perform heroic deeds and unthinkable atrocities.

In this entry, I want to present you an excerpt of one of Robert Kennedy’s speeches. Why does it qualify as something heroic? Well, I consider, what he is speaking about to be dangerous for an aspiring politician. His words create a deep human connection. Not only to him, but to all people. I think that his thoughts should dominate the political agenda. Being brave and speaking from the heart with love for all human beings should be rewarded. As small as my platform is, I still like to give his words the stage to inspire others.

You can find the full speech here.


Even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction – purpose and dignity – that afflicts us all.  Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things.  Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. 

It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them.  It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.  It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities.  It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. 

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.  It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. 

And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans. If this is true here at home, so it is true elsewhere in world.

Robert F. Kennedy
University of Kansas
March 18, 1968


Have a wonderful day and take care!


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