Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God. Aeschylus
Indianapolis was my first grown-up city. Indianapolis was the first place I lived after I graduated from college. Indianapolis was the first place I rented my own apartment. I was an AmeriCorps member and high school drama teacher in Indianapolis. Indianapolis was where I sat on a jury dealing with a gun-related crime.
Several blocks from where I served in AmeriCorps stands the Landmark for Peace, a memorial sculpture at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park. The memorial sculpture was built in the park where Robert Kennedy announced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s death to people gathered in Indianapolis that night. He had planned to deliver a campaign stump speech calling for economic justice, but that changed upon learning of King’s assassination. Robert F. Kennedy’s speech in Indianapolis. (To read those words today, knowing he would be assassinated several months later, is particularly chilling.) He spoke of the need for racial understanding and peace. He pleaded that violence not be the response to the tragedy of King’s death. Riots had erupted in several cities. Indianapolis remained peaceful.
Kennedy invoked the words of Aeschylus toward the middle of his speech. He then went on to state:
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
Those words are particularly important at this moment. There is an urgency and a need for action. People are dying. As we debate gun violence, consider the ethics of torture, and allow racism, bigotry, and misogyny to flow from our mouths and guide our actions, we must ask where is love? When will enough pain have dropped on our heart to end injustice? When will our world choose justice and love? We have a choice. We have a choice. We have a choice.
This is a time to reflect upon the state of peace in our world. It is a time to commit to building a world closer to the beloved community envisioned by King. It is time to stop killing each other. I believe that love conquers hate. I believe our homes, communities, countries, and world must embrace something different. We must turn to love. Right now.