I wrote last week about Bobby Kennedy’s speech after Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, and I continue to be inspired by RFK’s speeches in the late ’60s as he was truly finding his voice while running for President. But his speech in 1968 while in South Africa, often referred to as the Ripple of Hope speech, is probably my favorite.
Here’s the passage where the phrase is born:
Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope; and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
At the time, Bobby Kennedy was a Senator. Not a political figure in South Africa, but a US Senator. He was also a rich, famous, successful, white man.
He had no business being in South Africa, except that he cared. He cared about ushering forth the end of apartheid. He cared because he knew people were being treated unjustly and brutalized simply because of the color of their skin.
He had every reason to not get involved, to sit back and enjoy his own privileged place in society.
But he believed in finding ways to create ripples of hope. And he believed that not getting involved is akin to support. And he believed his privilege gave him a responsibility to act for those without.
Fast forward to today. We could use more people willing to create their own ripples of hope in the world.
The United States currently has a president that is a rich, famous, successful, white man. Only this one doesn’t seem to care about the plight of others, and basks in his privilege the way so many do.
Please be a Ripple of Hope in the world. Please realize that you can make a difference. Because as RFK said, if enough of us create those ripples, we can bring down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
You just have to believe.