Today a story. About a man who made a split second decision, stood down his fear, and gave a 5 minute speech that forever changed the course of a city. It is also a story about you. Your purpose. Your passion.
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It was April 4. 1968. The State of Indiana.
New York Senator Robert Kennedy was campaigning for President. Upon landing in Indianapolis, he was met by an aide who told him that Dr Martin Luther King had been assassinated. He was then handed a phone, and the Mayor of Indianapolis told Kennedy that there was violence in every major City in America—burning, looting, rioting—and asked that Kennedy cancel his public appearances and remain secluded in the safety of his hotel room… Kennedy refused.
Instead he went to what was then the ghetto of Indianapolis. Surrounded by a sea of angry African Americans, Kennedy mounted the back of a flatbed truck and began to speak. Kennedy talked about the pain of losing his brother to an assassin’s bullet. He asked that the people of Indianapolis not respond to violence with violence, but to instead go to their homes and churches to peacefully honor, remember and celebrate the life of Dr. King.
He spoke for less than five minutes, ending his speech with the words of Aeschylus, “Even in our sleep, pain which we cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom, through the awful grace of God.”
There was no violence that night in Indianapolis. Thousands of people quietly joined hands and went to their homes and churches to pray.
It was one of Robert Kennedy’s finest hours. His talk left a legacy that endures, not just a monument where he stood, but a city that to this day remains a shining example of peace and racial harmony.
In that moment, Robert Kennedy answered a call. In that moment, he summoned a passion within. In that moment, Kennedy faced his own fear, summoned the courage to scale a mountain, and do something only he could have done, unique to him and fitted to his talent.
His words that day affected an entire nation.
The most important day in your life is the day you were born. The second most important is the day you discovered why–the day you learned what you were put on earth to do–the day you learned what your passion is.
The great tragedy of our time is not that we die, it is that too few of us ever live, instead passing through life and leaving this earth never having answered our call.
If you have a passion…If you know why you were born and what you were put on earth to do, waste no time. GO LIVE IT! Answer the voice in your head that is begging you to shine. Live fully the only life you will ever have.
And remember the words of the great Winston Churchill…
“There comes a time in every person’s life when they are tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a very special thing…unique to them and fitted to their talent.”
Let not that moment find you unqualified or ill-prepared.
And today my words for you: Embrace your fear and make it your friend. Answer the voice in your head begging you to shine. Shed that burden of guilt about what you have not done. Embark on a new journey down an unfamiliar path. And fully live an abundant life – one that has your name on it.
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Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.
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