Sunday, November 20, 2016

JFK's Ode to Robert Frost


JFK, a visionary to the max, not only had style but also wisdom and a profound connect to creativity and art, something seen in his wonderful eulogy to Robert Frost, yours truly's favorite poet. As backdrop, here are some quotes from Brain Pickings, a gem of a site that connects to creativity in profound ways. Enjoy.

In January of 1961, as John F. Kennedy’s inauguration approached, his would-be Secretary of the Interior suggested that the poet Robert Frost participate in the ceremony as the first inaugural poet. Eighty-six-year-old Frost telegrammed Kennedy with his signature elegance of wit: “If you can bear at your age the honor of being made president of the United States, I ought to be able at my age to bear the honor of taking some part in your inauguration.” He proceeded to deliver a beautiful ode to the dream of including the arts in government, which touched Kennedy deeply.

And this, the single best quote on the proper use of power in JFK's wonderful eulogy to Frost.

Strength takes many forms, and the most obvious forms are not always the most significant. The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation’s greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us.

We take great comfort in our nuclear stockpiles, our gross national product, our scientific and technological achievement, our industrial might — and, up to a point, we are right to do so. But physical power by itself solves no problems and secures no victories. What counts is the way power is used — whether with swagger and contempt, or with prudence, discipline and magnanimity. What counts is the purpose for which power is used — whether for aggrandizement or for liberation. “It is excellent,” Shakespeare said, “to have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.”

I remember JFK's great inaugural back in 1961 like it was yesterday, when this nation was great and noble, not like what we see today, a nation bitter, divided & mean spirited. RIP Mr. President.

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