Dr John Smith: How our hopes died that day, 50 years ago

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It is 50 years ago that President John F Kennedy died.

At that time, with his death, many of our hopes and dreams for the future disappeared.

I do not know where those hopes came from, it was simply that he was young and an inspiring speaker that made us dream.

We, at last, felt able to leave the Second World War behind and emerge from the austerity and drabness of the 1950s.

When Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, it was as if we could ask the same things of ourselves in our own communities.

Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps we did achieve something, and perhaps the Swinging Sixties did see the start of a kinder, more caring and just society.

Whether I am right or wrong, I still think for many of us hope died that day.

For when we hope we are thinking beyond ourselves, beyond our own aspirations and dreams, beyond what we want for ourselves to what we want for others.

Now I accept that what I want for others is not necessarily what you would want and it is underpinned by my Christian faith.

I want communities that can live in peace with each other even if we do not agree, communities that are capable of loving and caring and forgiving, where we can acknowledge the dignity of all of us – the poorest, the richest, the cleverest, the sickest, the fittest, acknowledging that we all have something to give this world and something to receive too.

Some of you may think that this is all pie in the sky, that human beings are not made like this, that we are made to compete, to fight, to win.

But I don’t, naïve I may be but I do believe that we should hope for good things, the common good, the good for all of us.

Hope died for me 50 years ago, but it is always resurrected, something we must never lose.