Today is the 52nd anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, who was mortally wounded just after midnight on June 5, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in downtown Los Angeles and died the following day. Various journalists and pundits today, in June 2020, are noting that our current year began like 1974, turned into 1918, and has since devolved into 1968. I received an email yesterday from someone who said they were so distraught that they were having difficulty processing what is happening and even functioning to a certain degree. I responded as best I could and offered Lincoln’s words from the American Civil War that sometimes events are so confusing and come so quickly that we simply cannot understand them. Our decisions and responses have weight. Contingency and agency matter. The people of Match 1865 did not know when and how the war would end. Lincoln went on though that it is up to us to do what is right as we see it.
The coming summer days, weeks, and months will be difficult on a number of levels. Memorial Day Weekend I came to the realization that the entire summer is going to be one of sheltering in place just like the last days of winter and all of spring. Alas I won’t be visiting many of the sites and places this summer I had planned to. I have resigned to this notion. Getting back to the idea of agency, a way to deal with the current moment is by focusing one’s energy in creative and productive ways. Take on a project, read some history and literature, watch and listen to historians online. Try to be in a different place, if not physically then intellectually and emotionally, come summer’s end.
(image by Boris Yaro for the Los Angeles Times)