Comment On This: Robert Kennedy on GDP

 A Note From The Administrators: This is the first post of what will be a weekly part of what we do here at TTAF.  These posts will be categorized simply under Comment On This and the goal is to get you to think about what  the author or speaker is trying to say and then to leave your thoughts in the comments section.  We hope to spur great conversation with these quotes among the readers and ourselves as the administrators.  Enjoy the quote, leave your thoughts and look out for next week’s post.

We will find neither national purpose nor personal satisfaction in a mere continuation of economic progress, in an endless amassing of worldly goods. We cannot measure national spirit by the Dow Jones Average, nor national achievement by the Gross National Product. For the Gross National Product includes air pollution, and ambulances to clear our highways from carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for the people who break them. The Gross National Product includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads…. It includes… the broadcasting of television programs which glorify violence to sell goods to our children. “And if the Gross National Product includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials… the Gross National Product measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile, and it can tell us everything about America — except whether we are proud to be Americans.

-Robert Kennedy- 1968 –

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5 Comments on “Comment On This: Robert Kennedy on GDP”

  1. FakeTravisWhalen
    May 2, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    I always struggle with the phrase “proud to be American”. I think it’s because I’ve lived outside of America and I’ve seen the picture that phrase is most commonly attributed to and it’s not something that makes me proud… it something that makes me apologetic. It’s usually a picture of arrogance that has become complacency. Of decadence that wasn’t born from an eager pursuit but rather a from entitlement. It’s not a pleasant picture. However, the neat thing about Kennedy’s quote is that it puts the responsibility for pride in this country on my shoulders. Maybe he didn’t intend for this but it happened. I read what makes our country bad and then I read what could makes it great and I realized that the defining factor is me. If I am a good man who leads a good family and does good work than the world around me is better. It’s not better in a way that can be measured on any of societies chosen scales of success but it’s better in a way we will all feel. A way that makes us proud to live here not for what it is but for what we are diligently trying to make it. It’s a hopeful pride. It’s a motivational pride. A pride that defeats complacency and entitlement and moves us to responsibility and intentionality.

  2. joshacorman
    May 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    The big thing for me is the indictment of a population who sees financial stability and economy as the concern that trumps all others. The idea that who we are as a nation should matter more than what we have materially is something I wish more people would be willing to listen to, but when a politician mentions the environment or concern over labor safety, the reaction is too often only concerned with the impact on jobs, taxes, or the economy.

  3. curtisrrogers
    May 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more with what you guys are saying. I feel much like FakeTravis from my experience abroad and too often living abroad just makes us angry and bitter about being an American when in reality it can change simply in how we live our own lives. I see a lot of people our age scaring their parents by choosing not to try and achieve the same social and financial status of the generation before them and instead go after vocations that make a difference, and I think that is admirable, we just need to do it even more as a country, generation, gender. Good conversation starter, thanks for commenting, I would love to discuss this further but you are keeping me from finishing tomorrow’s post.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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