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Abuse refers to the use or treatment of something (a person, item, substance, concept, or vocabulary) that is seen as harmful. The term can be used for anything ranging from the misuse of a piece of equipment to the severe maltreatment of a person.-Wikipedia

Today is BlogCatalog’s latest blogging challenge, “Blogging Against Abuse“, which aims to have thousands of bloggers internet-wide take part in blogging about putting an end to abuse of any sort. I only found out about this event two days ago, and really had no idea exactly what type of abuse I would write about since so many, especially child abuse and animal abuse, are worthy of attention. I had decided that I would allow my readers to peruse Wikipedia’s offering under abuse, and hope that in having just a few of the various forms of abuse staring back at them from their computer monitor, they might realize that we all (more than likely) take part in one form of abuse or another; from the abuse we inflict upon ourselves with drugs or alcohol to abuse inflicted upon others such as physical abuse, elder abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, and animal abuse. Perhaps the one we think of less as an abuse is that of verbal abuse, however the sting and lasting effects of being lashed out at with hurtful, hateful, and harmful words can have as much of an impression as that of a physical blow.

While all of these forms of abuse are worthy of deep thought, discussion, and plans for constructive steps to be taken to end them, the one that is resonating most with me at this particular moment is the abuse of power. Mind you, all of the abuses I have already mentioned are abuses of power of some sort, but the one I am thinking of more specifically is the abuse of power in which government officials (elected or public safety) have been partaking far too long, far too often, and with far too many negative ramifications for innocent bystanders. Any reader of this blog knows my opinions on this horrific, no-end-in-sight war, my frustration with the non-action by our government before/during/after Hurricane Katrina, and my absolute and total disgust with George W. Bush and his cohorts in crime. George and his cronies are the epitome of the abuse of power and their ability to have duped the American public for so long, and to underhandedly mold the laws of our land to fit the shape and the ideal of what THEY think it should be, regardless of the will of the people, simply astounds me.

I just finished watching the movie Bobby, by Emilio Estevez, and it was Robert F. Kennedy’s brilliant speech, “On the Mindless Menace of Violence”, played over the last scenes of the movie, which gave me that mental and emotional push to choose abuse of power as my topic to blog about for this “Blogging Against Abuse” event. I am somewhat ashamed to say that I had never heard that particular speech before, but it is truly one of the most touching, insightful, and beautiful stringing together of words and mental imagery that I have ever come across. The connection between abuse of power (be it citizen-to-citizen or government official-to-citizen) and the violence RFK spoke of is obvious, and unfortunately one that continues today, and sadly one that will probably always remain in one form or another unless we all take the time to search inside ourselves to see if we are guilty of planting even the tiniest seed of abuse in any form, which could ultimately lead to the flowering of abuse of other sorts.

Please take a few moments to watch this video I found which contains the audio of Robert Kennedy giving his “On the Mindless Menace of Violence” speech over some gripping and heart wrenching images. They are truly words and images which are bound to give you pause for thought. And that pause for thought, my friends, is where change begins.

On the Mindless Menace of Violence

Robert F. Kennedy

City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio
April 5, 1968

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one – no matter where he lives or what he does – can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by an assassin’s bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily – whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence – whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

“Among free men,” said Abraham Lincoln, “there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs.”

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man’s spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

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