Robert Kennedy Asks That We Remain Critical
Today we celebrate the birth of the United States, and while that is cause for rejoice, it is important to remember that we should not blindly defend our nation and celebrate it but remain in a constant state of reflection…
An excerpt from Robert Kennedy’s speech at University of Kansas in 1968.
“We will find neither national purpose nor personal satisfaction in a mere continuation of economic progress, in an endless amassing of worldly goods. We cannot measure national spirit by the Dow Jones Average, nor national achievement by the Gross National Product. For the Gross National Product includes air pollution, and ambulances to clear our highways from carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for the people who break them. The Gross National Product includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior, It grows with the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads… It includes… the broadcasting of television programs that glorify violence to sell goods to our children.”
“And if the Gross National Product includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials… the Gross National Product measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except what makes life worthwhile, and it can tell us everything about America— except whether we are proud to be Americans.”