hope for the future

Thinking RFK

Driving home from the airport last night, I got the chance to listen to a great BBC audio documentary about 1968 (part 1 of 4 – the show about the Prague Spring is also a must listen).

With 2008 in our rear view mirror, it was still refreshing to hear this quote from Ted Kennedy at Robert F. Kennedy’s memorial:

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?

So I did a little digging and found some other quotes from RFK that seem to fit as perfectly in the media world today as they did in the political world of 1968.

Check these out:

  • All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.
  • Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
  • Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.
  • It is not enough to understand, or to see clearly. The future will be shaped in the arena of human activity, by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to the task.

I don’t know what the next year will hold for the media. From everything I read, it’s going to be a tough year in the U.S. and probably throughout the rest of the western world. There will probably be more layoffs and more newspapers closing. 

But if these are times that cause you to reach for the antacid medicine, they are also the times when journalism desperately needs a shot of the RFK mindset.

This is what I was thinking about last week, inspired by David Cohn. We’ll see how this semester plays out.