Mind the gap
Paranoid Politics

Ted Sorensen

Sorensen A good friend pointed me to Jeffrey Sachs' tribute to Ted Sorensen in today's Huffington Post.  

Sorensen, who passed away over the weekend, is probably best remembered as JFK's speechwriter, but as most of his obits make clear, he was much more.

He not only put Kennedy's ideas into memorable words, he helped shape the ideas themselves (which, by the way, is what all really good speechwriters do).  

What prompted my friend to send me the link was the way Sorensen dealt with this whole notion of "the other" in a speech he wrote almost 50 years ago. Even then, as she noted, he "realized that accepting different cultures and understanding and acknowledging each person's basic humanity was the only way we'd ever have world peace."  

The specific lines that drew her attention are worth reprinting here:

"Let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal."

Kennedy/Sorensen, of course, were referring to differences between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.  

But on the eve of another election, in the wake of successive rallies on the National Mall, amidst partisan rancor and free-floating anger, it might be an appropriate moment to ask ourselves if the search for common interests might not apply within our borders just as it did without, those five decades ago.





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