Tuesday, November 22, 2016

John F. Kennedy

Fifty-three years ago, the United States' thirty-fifth president was assassinated in Dallas, TX.

Intersubjectivity includes the constant struggle to hold the tension between recognizing the other as a subject and the tendency to see the other as an object.  As our country struggles, after a divisive election, to maintain the capacity to see the other as having the equal right to her/his own thoughts and opinions, I am reminded of the college paper of my younger daughter on JFK. She wrote:

In a speech at American University June 10, 1963 Kennedy reached out to the Soviet Union to join with the USA in ceasing to hold the world hostage with nuclear weapons testing.

       History teaches us that enmity between nations as between
       individuals do[es] not last forever. No government or social
       system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking
       in virtue. Among the many traits that the peoples of our two
       countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual
       abhorrence of war.

Historian Timothy Naftali said of this commencement speech,

           It’s the first time an American president said ‘the Soviets
           are like us’. It’s the first he asked the American people to
           think beyond stereotypes and the Cold War and think
           about the fact that this is a matter of the future of the
           human race.

Six weeks later, Kennedy reached an agreement with Khrushchev to ban testing on nuclear weapons. Kennedy referred to the negotiation as “a shaft of light cut into the darkness.”

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