Friday, November 26, 2010

A reason to be thankful

An old friend of mine sent me a Thanksgiving greeting, in the form of an excerpt from a speech by Jim Douglas, who spent his life in the religious wing of the peace movement, and whose book, “JFK and the Unspeakable, “ presents a comprehensive view of the evidence that Kennedy was murdered by elements of the US government. The assassination was the coup d’etat that Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell address three years earlier. Ike had an unmistakably worried look on his face as he described the threat to democracy from “the military industrial complex.”

On November 22nd, 1963, the US national security state effectively replaced our traditional democratic republic. The half century since has been a continual process of acclimating the public to their new circumstances. You only have to imagine George Washington standing silently in line to have his privates fondled by a government agent to realize how far from the Tree of Liberty we have fallen.

At any rate, I’m sure Mr. Douglas won’t mind us sharing his spiritually informed perspective on why this truth should not be unspeakable. He also gives us a reason to be thankful for the important influence that Jack Kennedy did in fact bequeath us:

“At a certain point in his presidency, John Kennedy turned a corner and didn’t look back. I believe that decisive turn toward his final purpose in life, resulting in his death, happened in the darkness of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Although Kennedy was already in conflict with his national security managers, the missile crisis was the breaking point. At that most critical moment for us all, he turned from any remaining control his security managers had over him toward a deeper ethic, a deeper vision in which the fate of the earth became his priority. Without losing sight of our own best hopes in this country, he began to home in, with his new partner, Nikita Khrushchev, on the hope of peace for everyone on this earth – Russians, Americans, Cubans, Vietnamese, Indonesians, everyone – no exceptions. He made that commitment to life at the cost of his own.

What a transforming story that is.

And what a propaganda campaign has been waged to keep us Americans from understanding that story, from telling it, and from re-telling it to our children and grandchildren.

Because that’s a story whose telling can transform a nation. But when a nation is under the continuing domination of an idol, namely war, it is a story that will be covered up. When the story can liberate us from our idolatry of war, then the worshippers of the idol are going to do everything they can to keep the story from being told. From the standpoint of a belief that war is the ultimate power, that’s too dangerous a story. It’s a subversive story. It shows a different kind of security than always being ready to go to war. It’s unbelievable – or we’re supposed to think it is -- that a president was murdered by our own government agencies because he was seeking a more stable peace than relying on nuclear weapons. It’s unspeakable. For the sake of a nation that must always be preparing for war, that story must not be told. If it were, we might learn that peace is possible without making war. We might even learn there is a force more powerful than war. How unthinkable! But how necessary if life on earth is to continue.

That is why it is so hopeful for us to confront the unspeakable and to tell the transforming story of a man of courage, President John F. Kennedy. It is a story ultimately not of death but of life – all our lives. In the end, it is not so much a story of one man as it is a story of peacemaking when the chips are down. That story is our story, a story of hope.

I believe it is a providential fact that the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination always falls around Thanksgiving, and periodically on that very day. This year the anniversary of his death, two days from now, will begin Thanksgiving week.

Thanksgiving is a beautiful time of year, with autumn leaves falling to create new life. Creation is alive, as the season turns. The earth is alive. It is not a radioactive wasteland. We can give special thanks for that. The fact that we are still living – that the human family is still alive with a fighting chance for survival, and for much more than that – is reason for gratitude to a peacemaking president, and to the unlikely alliance he forged with his enemy. So let us give thanks this Thanksgiving for John F. Kennedy, and for his partner in peacemaking, Nikita Khrushchev.”

Speech delivered to the Coalition on Political Assassinations in Dallas, November 20, 2009.

--Michael Hasty

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