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1967_08_26--028_SP At Home with Heir Apparent

waiting audience, who can seem to be hardly even one-dimensional when he chooses to withdraw from people around him—was, with his children, a totally three-dimensional paterfamilias figure. The sun was streaming in the windows of this cheerful hilltop dining room, whose principal decorations are Francetti portraits of the Kennedy children. These appealing pastels were done by Mme. Francetti over a period of years, and some of the bright-eyed youngsters are now grown into adolescence. The effect here, as everywhere in Kennedy family precincts, was to give the children a preeminent place in the Kennedy milieu—which is to say, the Kennedy dynasty. With quiet restored, I brought up a littlenoticed speech which the senator had made before the Americans for Democratic Action in Philadelphia on February 24. It was a moving address on the frustrated plight of the ordinary individual in this country and elsewhere in the world today, and on the emotional withdrawal of a very large segment of the younger generation from the confused and senseless world they have inherited. Reprints of this speech have become what Kennedy office-staff people call an "underground" circular— hundreds of requests for copies have come as a result of word-of-mouth communication on campuses all over America. I asked Kennedy to explain for me now the reasons for this malaise of our young people. "I think," he began, "it probably comes down basically to this: That life is very difficult for an individual, with the tremendous changes that have been made in this country and in society and in science, engineering, politics; all the tremendous changes that have taken place over twenty years— in the population growth, and the growth of our cities. The complexity of these problems is such that you don't feel you are a member of any kind of a community. That's the reason, at least in part, why we have violence in the cities and in the suburbs and why we have the young people reacting the way they do—in demonstrations, lying down in front of cars, lying down in front of railroads, walking out of meetings, and at times when they are advocating free speech, joining to prevent someone they disagree with from being permitted to speak. Or they are rude by walking out of a meeting for the Vice President of the United States. They come to the meetings, then walk out." The senator was talking now with a quite uncharacteristic flow of thoughts and words, more as if he were thinking aloud than answering a specific question. He continued, "It is an effort today, in trying to manifest the importance of the individual, to show that the individual does count in a society where he actually appears to count less and less. Many of our young people—and older people as well—feel that they really have no control over what happens in government, and what happens in their country, and in their world—a world that we now have the ability to destroy, along with all mankind, through the use of atomic weapons. The individual feels he has no role to play. He can't affect the situation. I don't think it's a question of just Vietnam, but when these young people see hunger and poverty and discrimination, and when they see other countries which are having a difficult time while we have tremendous wealth here in the United States—then it seems unjust, and they would like to see that our Government and our society are doing something about it." He hitched himself into an easier position in his chair and went on, "But we don't seem to be doing The touch-football scene: al top, Bobby fakes a handoff to David, and (left) slips the ball to fleet footedEthel. 3?


1967_08_26--028_SP At Home with Heir Apparent
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