In 1968 at an election rally at the University of Kansas Robert Kennedy said that the then current Gross National Product of the US was just over $800 billion dollars. He went on to say that that GNP also includes air pollution and jails and nuclear warheads and armored cars for police. . .however
. . .it 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.
If I’m reading the charts right, it looks to me as if our GNP today is just over $16 billion dollars, which means that in the last 47 years it has doubled. Has our well-being doubled? Do we have significantly less pollution and destruction of our environment? Are all of our children receiving a much higher quality education? Are the relations among the multiple races in our country at least twice as good as they were then? Are our families stronger and nurturing thriving, happy, productive future citizens of the world?
Obviously, I don’t know the answer to these questions and I suspect we would have differences of opinion, but the answers seem to me to at least partially define Kennedy’s “. . .that which makes life worthwhile.”
If each of us looks at our own life, in the last however many years are we living a life that feels more worthwhile? Are we living in such a way that we’re contributing to the welfare of others and to the planet so that life is more worthwhile for all now and for future generations?
Are we alert for the signs of “OK! That’s ENOUGH!!” and deciding to take some action—no matter how large or small—that will make an impact on the quality of life for all?
We can do this. . .one step at a time.