Remembering the Powerful Words of Robert F. Kennedy

June 7th, 2013 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on Remembering the Powerful Words of Robert F. Kennedy

Robert F KennedyYesterday was the 45th anniversary of the death of Robert Kennedy, who was gunned down in California as he was campaigning in 1968, for the Presidency of the United States.

Kennedy was one of the few politicians (even to this day) who actually talked, not just about the middle class, but about those who lived in poverty, in the wealthiest nation in the world – meaning those who certainly weren’t thinking about which apple variety they were going to try this week; but instead, were just hoping they could enjoy any piece of fruit, which often served as their only meal for the day.

On May 5, 1967, he gave a very poignant and powerful speech in Detroit (video below) addressing the irony of how we as a country measure our success. In case you can’t watch videos at work, below is the portion of his speech that is recorded on the video:

Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.

It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. 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. It 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 that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

As we move through our day, fortunate to be surrounded by an abundance of food, it’s important to take the time to remind ourselves that not everyone has the luxury of abundance. And Bobby Kennedy’s words certainly remind us of this irony, especially on a day like today, when the country awaits the new GDP numbers that come out this morning, coincidentally. And if those numbers look good, we mistakenly believe that all is well in the world.

Those of us in the organic and natural foods industry are fortunate to have wonderful and healthy choices when it comes to how we eat. But millions of people in our country do not have the same luxury of such choices. It’s important to remember that we are about ensuring that people have good food to eat, but first and foremost, and to truly be effective in what we do, it’s important to understand that food and regular access to meals is still a luxury for some in our country, and that needs to change. Just as our awareness and leadership with organic foods are changing the way people eat . . . our awareness and leadership can also make a difference in how people are able to access the food they need. This should be no less our calling.

More like Robert Kennedy, please.