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On this day: Bobby Kennedy's speech, 1968

With thousands dead and many more still missing after the earthquake in Japan, protesters thronging the streets of the Arab world, and Western jet fighters poised to enter the skies above Libya to counter the violent excesses of a murderous dictator, Thinq would like to take a break from talking about 'stuff'.

Forty-three years ago today, on 18th March, 1968, Senator Robert F Kennedy delivered a speech at the University of Kansas. Less than three months later, he was dead - assassinated on the presidential campaign trail in Los Angeles, California.

His speech remains perhaps the greatest expression of democratic, liberal politics the world has witnessed.

Back then, as now, the United States was engaged in a seemingly unwinnable war in Asia. But the problems of economic inequality, the abuse of power, of environmental devastation and the pursuit of financial gain over fellow feeling, are perhaps more true today - and the whole world over - than they were when he spoke of them 43 years ago.

The following is a passage from his address.

"Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things...

"Gross National Product - if we judge the United States of America by that... counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.

"It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

"Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. 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.

"It 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."