President John F. Kennedy’s Commencement Address at American University

June 10, 1963

President Anderson, members of the faculty, board of trustees, distinguished guests, my old colleague, Senator Bob Byrd, who has earned his degree through many years of attending night law school, while I am earning mine in the next 30 minutes, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

It is with great pride that I participate in this ceremony of the American University, sponsored by the Methodist Church, founded by Bishop John Fletcher Hurst, and first opened by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. This is a young and growing university, but it has already fulfilled Bishop Hurst’s enlightened hope for the study of history and public affairs in a city devoted to the making of history and the conduct of the public’s business. By sponsoring this institution of higher learning for all who wish to learn, whatever their color or their creed, the Methodists of this area and the Nation deserve the Nation’s thanks, and I commend all those who are today graduating.

Professor Woodrow Wilson once said that every man sent out from a university should be a man of his nation as well as a man of his time, and I am confident that the men and women who carry the honor of graduating from this institution will continue to give from their lives, from their talents, a high measure of public service and public support.

“There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university,” wrote John Masefield in his tribute to English universities–and his words are equally true today. He did not refer to spires and towers, to campus greens and ivied walls. He admired the splendid beauty of the university, he said, because it was “a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see.”

I have, therefore, chosen this time and this place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived–yet it is the most important topic on earth: world peace.

What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children–not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women–not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.

I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.

Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need to use them is essential to keeping the peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles–which can only destroy and never create–is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace.

I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war–and frequently the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.

Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament–and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitude–as individuals and as a Nation–for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward–by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the cold war and toward freedom and peace here at home.

First: Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable–that mankind is doomed–that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.

We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade–therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable–and we believe they can do it again.

I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.

Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace– based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions–on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace–no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process–a way of solving problems.

With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor–it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors.

So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it.

Second: Let us reexamine our attitude toward the Soviet Union. It is discouraging to think that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write. It is discouraging to read a recent authoritative Soviet text on Military Strategy and find, on page after page, wholly baseless and incredible claims–such as the allegation that “American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of wars . . . that there is a very real threat of a preventive war being unleashed by American imperialists against the Soviet Union . . . [and that] the political aims of the American imperialists are to enslave economically and politically the European and other capitalist countries . . . [and] to achieve world domination . . . by means of aggressive wars.”

Truly, as it was written long ago: “The wicked flee when no man pursueth.” Yet it is sad to read these Soviet statements–to realize the extent of the gulf between us. But it is also a warning–a warning to the American people not to fall into the same trap as the Soviets, not to see only a distorted and desperate view of the other side, not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than an exchange of threats.

No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue. As Americans, we find communism profoundly repugnant as a negation of personal freedom and dignity. But we can still hail the Russian people for their many achievements–in science and space, in economic and industrial growth, in culture and in acts of courage.

Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second World War. At least 20 million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked. A third of the nation’s territory, including nearly two thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland–a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of Chicago.

Today, should total war ever break out again–no matter how–our two countries would become the primary targets. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first 24 hours. And even in the cold war, which brings burdens and dangers to so many nations, including this Nation’s closest allies–our two countries bear the heaviest burdens. For we are both devoting massive sums of money to weapons that could be better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty, and disease. We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion on the other, and new weapons beget counterweapons.

In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. Agreements to this end are in the interests of the Soviet Union as well as ours–and even the most hostile nations can be relied upon to accept and keep those treaty obligations, and only those treaty obligations, which are in their own interest.

So, let us not be blind to our differences–but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.

Third: Let us reexamine our attitude toward the cold war, remembering that we are not engaged in a debate, seeking to pile up debating points. We are not here distributing blame or pointing the finger of judgment. We must deal with the world as it is, and not as it might have been had the history of the last 18 years been different.

We must, therefore, persevere in the search for peace in the hope that constructive changes within the Communist bloc might bring within reach solutions which now seem beyond us. We must conduct our affairs in such a way that it becomes in the Communists’ interest to agree on a genuine peace. Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy–or of a collective death-wish for the world.

To secure these ends, America’s weapons are nonprovocative, carefully controlled, designed to deter, and capable of selective use. Our military forces are committed to peace and disciplined in self- restraint. Our diplomats are instructed to avoid unnecessary irritants and purely rhetorical hostility.

For we can seek a relaxation of tension without relaxing our guard. And, for our part, we do not need to use threats to prove that we are resolute. We do not need to jam foreign broadcasts out of fear our faith will be eroded. We are unwilling to impose our system on any unwilling people–but we are willing and able to engage in peaceful competition with any people on earth.

Meanwhile, we seek to strengthen the United Nations, to help solve its financial problems, to make it a more effective instrument for peace, to develop it into a genuine world security system–a system capable of resolving disputes on the basis of law, of insuring the security of the large and the small, and of creating conditions under which arms can finally be abolished.

At the same time we seek to keep peace inside the non-Communist world, where many nations, all of them our friends, are divided over issues which weaken Western unity, which invite Communist intervention or which threaten to erupt into war. Our efforts in West New Guinea, in the Congo, in the Middle East, and in the Indian subcontinent, have been persistent and patient despite criticism from both sides. We have also tried to set an example for others–by seeking to adjust small but significant differences with our own closest neighbors in Mexico and in Canada.

Speaking of other nations, I wish to make one point clear. We are bound to many nations by alliances. Those alliances exist because our concern and theirs substantially overlap. Our commitment to defend Western Europe and West Berlin, for example, stands undiminished because of the identity of our vital interests. The United States will make no deal with the Soviet Union at the expense of other nations and other peoples, not merely because they are our partners, but also because their interests and ours converge

Our interests converge, however, not only in defending the frontiers of freedom, but in pursuing the paths of peace. It is our hope– and the purpose of allied policies–to convince the Soviet Union that she, too, should let each nation choose its own future, so long as that choice does not interfere with the choices of others. The Communist drive to impose their political and economic system on others is the primary cause of world tension today. For there can be no doubt that, if all nations could refrain from interfering in the self-determination of others, the peace would be much more assured.

This will require a new effort to achieve world law–a new context for world discussions. It will require increased understanding between the Soviets and ourselves. And increased understanding will require increased contact and communication. One step in this direction is the proposed arrangement for a direct line between Moscow and Washington, to avoid on each side the dangerous delays, misunderstandings, and misreadings of the other’s actions which might occur at a time of crisis.

We have also been talking in Geneva about the other first-step measures of arms control designed to limit the intensity of the arms race and to reduce the risks of accidental war. Our primary long range interest in Geneva, however, is general and complete disarmament– designed to take place by stages, permitting parallel political developments to build the new institutions of peace which would take the place of arms. The pursuit of disarmament has been an effort of this Government since the 1920’s. It has been urgently sought by the past three administrations. And however dim the prospects may be today, we intend to continue this effort–to continue it in order that all countries, including our own, can better grasp what the problems and possibilities of disarmament are.

The one major area of these negotiations where the end is in sight, yet where a fresh start is badly needed, is in a treaty to outlaw nuclear tests. The conclusion of such a treaty, so near and yet so far, would check the spiraling arms race in one of its most dangerous areas. It would place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man faces in 1963, the further spread of nuclear arms. It would increase our security–it would decrease the prospects of war. Surely this goal is sufficiently important to require our steady pursuit, yielding neither to the temptation to give up the whole effort nor the temptation to give up our insistence on vital and responsible safeguards.

I am taking this opportunity, therefore, to announce two important decisions in this regard.

First: Chairman Khrushchev, Prime Minister Macmillan, and I have agreed that high-level discussions will shortly begin in Moscow looking toward early agreement on a comprehensive test ban treaty. Our hopes must be tempered with the caution of history–but with our hopes go the hopes of all mankind.

Second: To make clear our good faith and solemn convictions on the matter, I now declare that the United States does not propose to conduct nuclear tests in the atmosphere so long as other states do not do so. We will not be the first to resume. Such a declaration is no substitute for a formal binding treaty, but I hope it will help us achieve one. Nor would such a treaty be a substitute for disarmament, but I hope it will help us achieve it.

Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude toward peace and freedom here at home. The quality and spirit of our own society must justify and support our efforts abroad. We must show it in the dedication of our own lives–as many of you who are graduating today will have a unique opportunity to do, by serving without pay in the Peace Corps abroad or in the proposed National Service Corps here at home.

But wherever we are, we must all, in our daily lives, live up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk together. In too many of our cities today, the peace is not secure because the freedom is incomplete.

It is the responsibility of the executive branch at all levels of government–local, State, and National–to provide and protect that freedom for all of our citizens by all means within their authority. It is the responsibility of the legislative branch at all levels, wherever that authority is not now adequate, to make it adequate. And it is the responsibility of all citizens in all sections of this country to respect the rights of all others and to respect the law of the land.

All this is not unrelated to world peace. “When a man’s ways please the Lord,” the Scriptures tell us, “he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights–the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation–the right to breathe air as nature provided it–the right of future generations to a healthy existence?

While we proceed to safeguard our national interests, let us also safeguard human interests. And the elimination of war and arms is clearly in the interest of both. No treaty, however much it may be to the advantage of all, however tightly it may be worded, can provide absolute security against the risks of deception and evasion. But it can–if it is sufficiently effective in its enforcement and if it is sufficiently in the interests of its signers–offer far more security and far fewer risks than an unabated, uncontrolled, unpredictable arms race.

The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough–more than enough–of war and hate and oppression. We shall be prepared if others wish it. We shall be alert to try to stop it. But we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success. Confident and unafraid, we labor on–not toward a strategy of annihilation but toward a strategy of peace.

25 thoughts on “President John F. Kennedy’s Commencement Address at American University”

  1. JFK 1963, Malcolm X 1965, MLK 1968, RFK 1968
    John Lennon 1980
    11 September 2001
    Michael Jackson 2009
    Newtown 2012, Boston 2013, Malcolm Shabazz 2013

  2. We live in a vastly different world now. We go back and remember how sure we felt, despite fears of the bomb. It seemed we had been chosen to lead into the next century and beyond into space. Our destiny had been seized from the jaws of destruction and saved for posterity.

    What could possibly go wrong? Where would the world be now if JFK had lived? That question plays like a broken record in the minds of good people around the planet. Then we yet weep.

  3. If Obama is trying to do the job that Kennedy only alluded to, i.e., rid the government of malicious infiltrators (of foreign allegiance) – universal meta-data filtering may be a way to identify them? I can not help but believe our President’s intentions are good and truly in the interest of national securitiy.

    Off topic: I just read this and immediately thought of James. That whistleblower, Edward Snowden, went to a community college but didn’t finish, and never took any computer classes:

    1. Peter, you sound completely sincere. But you simply must do more research to disabuse yourself of any idea about the “good intentions” of President Obama.

      This is not a Republican rant; they have boatloads of their own who have betrayed constitutional government. But the idea that this administration is using society-wide surveillance as a way to filter out the handful of those who may intend to do us harm is so naive as to be dangerous, I’m sorry to say.

      Obama is not Kennedy. He is not even Nixon. And the fact that there are serious, well-intentioned folks like yourself who could believe otherwise is very frightening to me.

      Please, do some real research. You will find what I write above to be truthful.

  4. Now, our country is no longer in a Cold War or war with Russia, but our government is at war with its citizens and rather in a colonial mode in regards to Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Boston event just confirms the oozing corruption of a seedy bunch of slow gaining fascist government officials. On the cover of People right now, the smiling fully recovered self-promoting amputee actors with huge financial gains to look forward to from their own funds and the One Fund – Boston.

    1. Can’t click on the link as it seems I will be contributing to the corruption! Thanks for sharing though. Sent an email to my reprensatives for what it is worth on the disgusting probably determental xray of my body at the airport and declared I refused to fly My senator replied, there was another technology that was not so intrusive, that was being considered. Four years after the TSA declared these machines that clearly display the naked body are no longer in use, or so we are told! Heard these invasive, very expensive machines are being resold to federal offices Back in the old days, they used xrays to determine shoe size, seems we have made a back flip back to those uninformed days…

      1. I won’t go through airport x-rays either – backscatter is a danger for skin cancer and radio wave which is perhaps the new technology your Senator writes about is a danger for unzipping DNA, and a pat down as it is now done is out of the question.

  5. Is it true that just before his assasination the worlds leaders had decided to move in the direction of enhancing the human condition. His death is the act which loosed hells minions on the planet.

    1. JFK spelled it out in no uncertain terms that secrecy in government is corrosive, not just of the institutions of government, not just immediately, but over the long term as dissent is crushed and dissenters eliminated in one way or another.

      He advocated a vigorous debate in society, not the insulation from critique or investigation or confrontation which so many have built into our system, even while they keep their power by secret deals, fake terror, secret wars, star chamber trials, assassinations and the acceptance of bribes (which undergirds it all).

      The transparency of the State is a one way mirror, where they see our actions and words, but we are not allowed to see theirs. The secret societies only make manifest the entire attitude.

      David Gergen said it was ungentlemanly to crash the Bohemian Grove, as though what leaders do when they get together in privacy is their own business, even if plotting initiatives against the People.

      Yet we know that the antitrust laws came out of a knowledge that combinations in restraint of trade happened, that “malefactors of great wealth” schemed against the Peoples’ welfare. We know that ordinary people must disclose their small stockholdings when they apply for some grant from the government, in order to prove they are unbiased in their research, not driven by private interests in their own gain. Yet the back-room handshakes should go unreported lest one seem less a gentleman.

      I don’t think Mr. Kennedy or Teddy Roosevelt or Thomas Jefferson would approve of the current state of our nation, but I do imagine they would be cheering on the brave skirmishes being launched against that system. To a man, they understood the value of vigorous opposition to tyranny. Mr. Jefferson even believed that a revolution now and then was perfectly okay, perhaps even a necessary corrective of what ails the body politic, the tree of liberty requiring refreshment with the blood of tyrants (and patriots). Will it come to that? I hope not. But as we know, illegitimate privilege is hard to drop.

      You can see that while the Congress can get nothing done when it is about the People’s business, it can easily close ranks without respect to political affiliation when its privileges are threatened and its dirty secrets exposed. That is what is happening now. I hope it continues. But unfortunately the fawning press has long lost the trust of many of us to report on how this will unfold.

  6. The chances of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. being assassinated in such a short span of time, the odds of that happening without it being orchestrated by the same players, must be in the billions. Probably the same odds of three buildings (Twin Towers and Building 7) simultaneously imploding upon themselves during 911. Count me as an official doubter.

    1. I was born shortly after the assassinations, but I recall learning of them at around the age of 9 or 10. Even at that young age it seemed obvious they were likely related events.

      Many years later, the collapse of Building 7 unraveled the “official” 911 story.

      I wouldn’t call myself a “doubter,” but “one who uses logic to dispel total BS.”

      1. It’s just simple math. 2 planes, 3 buildings. I don’t see how more people can’t see what we see. There’s nothing wrong with being ignorant. That just means you simply don’t know any better. But it’s not okay to stay ignorant.

        I have brought up 9/11 with strangers before and some of them just don’t want to hear about it. It’s so frustrating to see just how brain dead some people are. The sad thing is that I’m sure that almost all people who think like this can’t even tell you what the three branches of government are. Shit, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them couldn’t tell you how many branches there are, much less what they are.

        1. Actually, it’s more than 3 buildings; ALL the buildings of the WTC complex were destroyed. The most fascinating, and seemingly inexplicable, is building 6, which looked like a giant post hole digger gouged out twelve foot wide cylindrical holes, removing most of the interior but leaving most of the edges in tact. Even if a plane had crashed into it, that would not be the result. But no one, even those who know about building 7, is aware of the even more suspicious building 6. It’s never mentioned. I wonder why.

        2. @Patrick

          When I talk about the collapse I mean the ones that where the most obvious. And by that I mean the twin towers and WTC 7 which all fell at free fall speeds. In the case of the twin towers I can some what understand why the uninformed would believe that the building collapsed “due to fire damage” because they were hit by planes. WTC 7 on the other hand…

          While I was aware that all the buildings in the world trade center were either damaged or collapsed, I didn’t know about building 6. Thanks for that. I’m about to go do a little research on this right now. Stay safe Pat.

  7. Thank you for posting this speech. American University is my alma mater (1976), a place where I learned to think for myself, and was encouraged to do my own research. But I was too late for JFK’s speech. JFK died while I was taking an English test in my senior year in high school. I lived just outside of D.C. and was there when they held the funeral march and the city was silent. He was not a perfect man, but he was a great leader. His death hit my generation hard. Shortly thereafter, many friends were drafted and sent to Vietnam, some never to return, others to return and die later from exposure to agent orange.

    The next five years made a profound impact on my life, in that we lost MLK, and RFK (just as I was able to vote for the first time). I never believed the official stories and spent many years learning what was known about these events.

    I wonder if generations after mine have even experienced what a truly great leader is like in this country. Speeches from these men are well worth listening to.

  8. Thank you for posting JFK’s speech. Saw part of it on one of the C-Spans quite recently but didn’t get to see all of it. To read the entire thing was excellent.

    Thanks also for that other video with JFK talking about Freedom of the Press and the bit at the end on the Secret Societies.

  9. In such a compelling and inspirational commencement speech by John Kennedy, it has not escaped my attention that although he spoke about world peace he juxtaposed ‘world peace’ with the parallel of nation and individual. In fact he maximized the importance of the individual through his statements:’ by looking inward – – by examining his (her) own attitude toward the possibilities of peace.’ So Kennedy was really referring to a settled way of thinking and feeling on the individual level. He also spoke of ‘reasoned men’ or the individual of sound mind.

    So it takes individual’s of sound mind with a settled way of thinking and feeling to lead to world peace. Kant must have been right when he said ‘we are the world.’ I feel a sound mind is one rooted to peace because an individual has looked inwards, settled and balanced, his or her individual internal conflicts and grows new perceptions that allow recognizing outer conflict. I believe this is why John Kennedy said ‘peace is a process–a way of solving problems.’ The recognizing of outer conflict is the realization that comfortable, mutual tolerance is a big part of the glue which holds a whole society and democracy together.

    I have allowed myself to muse that John Kennedy was talking about the difference in outcome which might be produced by a peaceful mind rather than a war mind. Surely he was pointing this out when he stated, ‘Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need to use them is essential to keeping the peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles – – which can only destroy and never create – – is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace.’ I’m quite sure that an individual of sound mind would have the capability to know that to work for an armature industry or a defense industry, would be an action against ‘making life on earth worth living’–Kennedy’s vision for peace.

    So what guides us today? The word and idea of ‘terrorism.’ Hinged upon it, is the growing infrastructure of the very security complex that we are living in and under. Growing within it are the individual jobs, careers and professions where each individual is growing into that ‘settled way of thinking and feeling’ being structured into hundreds of thousands of ‘war minds.’ It is not beyond me to surmise that we are being led to grow ‘war minds’ simply by wrapping the undertaking around the guise that we are in search of security, protection and peace.

    Because there is a level of hidden deceit here there is just the ongoing structuring of war minds at the expense of forfeiting individual examination of inner attitudes about peace. There seems no time for this valuable process for every individual involved is awarded and prized for think-tank experiments brought to life on the compiling table of every industry that would benefit from having a collective, hive-like presence of war minds.

    You can call your endeavors in the security complex, career objectives or professional motivations or job challenges but each step you take to build this settled way of thinking and feeling from a war mind, you are giving your life and your talents to the wrong way for the conduct of the public’s business. You are loving ignorance. You are not a ‘man (or woman) of nation or your time’ you are a man (or woman) of an epoch marked by a notable event, characterized by being wholly negative and used now as the guiding light for life. You are involved in what John Kennedy termed ‘a dangerous, defeatist belief.’

    Every individual in the growing security structure knows who they are in the prevailing system but I doubt they know that their daily preoccupations are making some part of their inner being a battlefield of martial nature. Their mind is over-worked and their heart is unproductive. They have lost their ability to see the better nature of others. They strategize security thereby putting a straitjacket on freedom. They deny the caution of history, dull their own conscience and with every new plan executed they change the quality and spirit of society to accelerated distress.

    Every individual involved contributes to vanquishing John Kennedy’s assurance that we shall all do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. War minds produced by an obsession with security cannot hold up this hefty vision because heavy leanings towards security have rewarded the strong to marginalize ethics and have made the weak member of society and all other members the enemy.

    It’s evident we are on the wrong path but its wise to see the truth in Kennedy’s statement, “Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable’–the solving and answers goes back to the Individual.

    Thank you James and I apologize for length but such an inspirational speech merits a lengthy contemplation on where our individual, human actions are taking us.

    1. Thank you so much for this.

      There are paths we take in life.

      I cannot help but think of the scene with the knight in Indiana Jones the Last Crusade, where someone tries to choose the chalice of the Last Supper, and where because of a greed-driven war mind there is a fatal bad choice – which the ancient knight dismisses as “He chose … poorly” as that unfortunate choice leads to death.

      Of course life isn’t so simple, and path corrections are sometimes possible. I’ve often felt that entering some types of government work is like entering a gang, but unlike the Hobson’s choices of the very poor, it tends to be much more optional.

      I am beating around the bush, because I know some people who have made these choices, and I can remember when they did and why they did. I don’t think they were happy choices, not even the best available to them, but I know the motivation was different than only making a living. It had something to do with the failed choice in the Last Crusade, something about temptations in a very real moral sense.

      I don’t place myself in a position of ultimate judge of them, and I think my own choices may have been easier and more fortunate. But I do feel that a gap grew between us, and some of it was based on the very secrecy of the work they did, which forced them to part from the normal courses of friendship. No matter what they did, they can never share it except in a strict hierarchical structure of those permitted to know.
      By contrast, my sister has traveled and taught around the world, and she can openly speak of those she met and those she worked for. There’s no sense of a hidden agenda or a paradoxical morality.

      Did my friends keep us safe? Sadly, I think the opposite. I think that in setting up the system they worked in we all in one way of another, in creating this hive – chose poorly.

    2. Bev, your post is an outstanding contribution to understanding just how we now find ourselves so very deep in this cesspool, with so many interconnected corruptions killing us both collectively and individually.

      It is not necessary to believe in some massive organization that is directing everyone, although that may be the case. It is simpler and more convincing to observe unconscious human actions as the culprit. When you make “war mind” pay off, you are going to get all but the most conscious of humans to join in the party. It is only when their society is failing, their government is crushing them and their lives are seen as spent in supporting death instead of life that the regrets set in…often way too late.

      I often wonder why we don’t see hearts and minds like yours rise to positions of prominence in our society, so that the vision Kennedy outlined can begin to flourish. One of my fond hopes is that, after the chaos that will come from taking back our freedom, We The People will have at least enough sense to define a new way to install representative government, one of justice for all equally.

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