March 6, 2010

When you don’t know what to say to please your audience, speak from the heart.

West Wing: “Undecideds” episode. Matthew Santos’ speech in a black church on “Compassion.”

Just watched this episode, and cried during the last scene. Generally, I’m rather suppressed, emotionally; I cry about as often as I clean and organize my basement. So I figured this was one scene worth the sharing. Sorry, no video on youtube. Rent it: It’s the last season, an episode called “Undecideds.” Guaranteed to make political nerds cry. ~ W.

“Good morning. My prayers are with Ronnie Burke’s family today. I know yours are too. My prayers are with Officer Rafael Martinez and his family. They are not struggling with the loss of a child, but they are struggling with a terrible truth. My prayers are with those families and with this one.

“You know, I find myself on days like this casting about for someone to blame. I blame the kid, he stole a car. I blame the parents. Why couldn’t they teach him better. I blame the cop, did he need to fire. I blame every one I can think of and I am filled with rage. And then I try and find compassion. Compassion for the people I blame. Compassion for the people I do not understand, compassion. It doesn’t always work so well. I remember as a young man listening on the radio to Dr. King in 1968. He asked of us compassion, and we responded, not necessarily because we felt it but because he convinced us that if we could find compassion, if we could express compassion, that if we could just pretend compassion, it would heal us so much more than vengeance could. And he was right: it did but not enough. What we’ve learned this week is that more compassion is required of us and an even greater effort is required of us. And we are all, I think everyone of us, tired.

“We’re tired of understanding, we’re tired of waiting, we’re tired of trying to figure out why our children are not safe and why our efforts to to make them safe seem to fail. We’re tired. But we must know that we have made some progress and blame will only destroy it. Blame will breed more violence and we have had enough of that.

“Blame will not rid our streets of crime and drugs and fear and we have had enough of that. Blame will not strengthen our schools or our families or our workforce. Blame will rob us of those things and we have had enough of that. And so I ask you today to dig down deep with me and find that compassion in your hearts. Because it will keep us on the road. And we will walk together and work together. And slowly, slowly, too slowly, things will get better. God bless you. God bless you and God bless your children.”

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