When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. The minority are right.
– Eugene V. Debs
For a backwoods, country boy, Abraham Lincoln was well read. He understood what he read and how those ideas he read about could make for a better country. Abraham Lincoln did not seek the norm. Rather, he sought to do what was right and the courage to hold to his convictions. He knew only he could end slavery.
Congress on the other hand, is a body of government that follows the majority. Either by belief, party loyalty or coercion, members labor to form or be part of a majority. It is not a place for radical thought. It is a place for middle of the road, average ideas and safe bets to become law.
Radical thought requires a leader who is not in the middle of the road. A leader who does not seek popularity on every issue but wages a convincing argument for change. Robert F. Kennedy ran for President in 1968. He often ended his speeches paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw saying, “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.” That is the difference, to dream and say why not. That is the importance of radical thought, to act.
Lincoln and Kennedy paid the ultimate price for their beliefs. Only months before Kennedy was assassinated he pleaded for restraint and calm when Martin Luther King was killed. King radically called for peaceful dissent and was consistently met with violence.
RFK quoted Aeschylus when he announced the King’s assassination, “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.”
While Kennedy pleaded for peace and calm on the night a man of peace who fought for equal rights,was gunned down, it did not happen. Sadness and outrage spilled into the streets. Both Kennedy and King saw the need for change in our country and both sacrificed their lives for that change. The pain of their deaths fell drop by drop upon our hearts.
Are we wiser? Has change occurred? Some change has happened, but in nearly 50 years since the deaths of King and Kennedy,not enough. The slavery of the 1800’s has been replaced by the minimum wage strangle hold on the poor, the destruction of the middle class and the concentration of wealth in 2% of the population. We need some radical thinkers still.