Occupy: America’s Desperate Need for Hope
by Randy Woodley
JFK, MLK, RFK, X, and Paul Wellstone seem to lend power to the adage, “only the good die young. In 2008 I sensed an excitement that I had not seen since 1968 prior to Robert F. Kennedy being killed. Seeing the young people occupying the streets is amazing but it also reminds me of the results of what happened afterwards that year. My concern is that we not just demand change but that we find hope. In an effort to revive my spirit I recently reviewed the movie “Bobby.”
Seeing “Bobby,” the movie, reminded me once again of my tender and hopeful attitude towards the world in 1968. While watching the myriad of great actors trying to recreate the room at the Ambassador Hotel, I detected several interesting things (beside how old I’m getting). Compared to most of the politicians today, I noticed how much content there was in RFK’s speeches. Not at all the political jargon and spin, which seems to typify every national debate, but real heartfelt talk. It was obvious that there was a different tone in the political conversation in 1968—at least from Kennedy
I also took notice of the people Bobby hung out with. Surrounded by minorities and visiting the poor, the disenfranchised and the youth—people who don’t usually pull a great deal of political sway. He spoke of the great nation and of us becoming great citizens through ending the war, reducing poverty, investing in the youth, healing the racial divides (I even saw a picture of Kennedy with a Native American elder and no one seems politically interested in us today-short of absconding Casino monies).
It all re-affirmed to me that Bobby really did believe in our ability to create the America we dreamed of. He really believed “the dream” could become reality. Today, we have become cynical, afraid to dream, at best we call it “tempered realism.” I believe hope is what we need so desperately today. The kind of hope that I think would get someone like Robert F. Kennedy elected today. I think it is the kind of hope that would get a leader—a real leader, re-elected or elected as our 45th President.
No one really knows if Robert F. Kennedy would have become the 37th President or how effective he might have been. But I do believe that if RFK were a young Senator right now, he would become the next President of the United States.
I was only 12 years old when “Bobby” was killed. In those days people’s thinking was amazingly different than today. As a pre-teen, I too was riding high on the crest of that national wave of expectant hope for a new, and better society. National leaders who could speak of a better day with integrity like King and the Kennedys, were to me and my contemporaries, rock stars. I can’t help but notice that there is something about those times that is missing, in these times. And for me, if there is any one-year in history where I can pinpoint the death of the dream—it was 1968.
After the death of King, then the death of Kennedy, came the escalation of the war in Viet Nam, Watergate, the oil crisis and a whole slew of other distractions. With the absence of men like Martin and Bobby, it wasn’t long before America’s dreams were completely clouded by more temporal realities.
In the past few years others have tried to step up to the plate. We lost a great hopeful with the death of Senator Paul Wellstone. I really shouldn’t make a list but I will say, Obama-America may still have its eyes on you, and we know there is a fine balance between reality and dreams, so if you are our dreamer, now is time to throw open the window of opportunity and seize the dream again. Don’t get me wrong—I understand the economic realities, I know we desperately need a realist, but reality without the hope of a better day is simply Hell. To me, Hell on earth is being a citizen without a voice or representation—especially if you are among the poorest of the poor and the most marginalized of the marginalized. That’s why Occupy Wall Street is so great. People have decided their voice matters and they are not giving up. But they are looking for a dreamer tough enough to renew the vision of the men I have mentioned heretofore.
I observed that “Bobby’s” director, Emilio Estevez had the genius to cast the part of Robert Kennedy to none other than, Robert Kennedy. Amazing that RFK could star in his own movie thirty-eight years after his death, and still be a hit! Go Bobby! I just wonder if there is a leader out there now, who might have integrity and the voice of hopeful reality, who would deserve to star in the sequel? If so, you have my vote.
Lookin’ for a Leader to bring our country home
Re-unite the red white and blue before it turns to stone
Lookin’ for somebody young enough to take it on
Clean up the corruption and make the country strong
Walkin’ among our people there’s someone who’s straight and strong
To lead us from desolation and a broken world gone wrong
Someone walks among us and I hope he hears the call
And maybe it’s a woman or a black man after all
-Neil Young, “Looking For A Leader” from (Living With War)