BARBARO, the American leader and winner of the Kentucky Derby, was born on some farm in either Kentucky or Pennsylvania. A brilliant runner and mudder, whose insistence upon nonviolence in the Gandhian tradition accounted for the success of the movement, Barbaro was assassinated on January 29, 2007, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, by a white man.
I have bad news for you, for all our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that BARBARO was operated on and killed tonight.
BARBARO dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort.
In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you filled with bitterness, with hatred, and desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization – equestrian amongst equestrian, thoroughbred amongst thoroughbred, filled with hatred toward one another.
Or we can make an effort, as Barbaro did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand that compassion and love.
For those of you who are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all who deceive by saying they help horses, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.
My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: “In our sleep pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of injustice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be a Clydesdale or they be Spanish Mustang…
We’ve had difficult times in the past. We will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land. Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and to make gentle the life of this world.
Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
And for Barbaro.