Months ago when our interest in Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. was first kindling, a friend said to me, “How can we not be curious? He’s a falconer for Christ’s sake.” A joke, yes, but a revealing one. RFK Jr. didn’t merely stick out because he wasn’t the other candidates; RFK Jr. stuck out because of a quality of aliveness—an intensity and fullness of aliveness. In a time which can seem an all-out attempt at collective disassociation, a general rapturing into the false heaven of the Internet, it was refreshing to stumble upon a presidential candidate enamored of primary things, of the holiness of the real. Here was a man who seemed only interested in everything; here was a red-blooded existence. And that RFK Jr. spoke and wrote in defiance of a host of prevalent attitudes and in defiance of our government did not concern us; in fact, his stance was a relief, a sign that he could perhaps actually see. We knew none other than Thomas Jefferson urged such seeing, nudging us citizens to a watchful skepticism of the government (“for nothing can keep it right,” said Jefferson, “but their own vigilant and distrustful superintendence.”). In short, we were curious about Mr. Kennedy, about his life and character, and wondered if he was the sort of human who could help call down the falcon lost in the gyre.
But before I continue I’d like to share a bit about my background. For starters, I’ve never had much interest in current national politics. I don’t reliably follow the news. And in my 46 years I recall only a fleet thin flame of ardor for Barack Obama, a flame which soon faded as the drones continued to drone. Like many others, I’ve come to believe the sanest game-plan for humanity is a devotion to the great nearby, to the gospel of the local. I appreciate Brother David Steindl-Rast who said, “The future will not be a new, big tower of power. Our hope in the future is…well-trodden paths from house to house.” And I appreciate Basho who wrote:
Journeying to and fro, to and fro, cultivating a small field.
Well-trodden paths from house to house. Cultivating a small field. Such are the images that move me; such are my talismans.
I also want to say that despite a piece published in this forum a few months ago, a piece in favor of Mr. Kennedy, I am suspicious of missionaries. I don’t want to convert anyone one way or another. Any species of boosterism—or cancellation—should be met with a flinty eye. “The root and seed of Democracy,” said Emerson, “is the doctrine, Judge for yourself.” May it be so.
Read the full opinion piece here.
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