The Thought for the Day – John F Kennedy

Well, we’ll hang on tight. – John F Kennedy, 35th president of the United States, telephone conversation with former president of the United States Dwight Eisenhower, October 22, 1962


October 22 was day seven of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a momentous time when the United States had discovered the presence of Soviet Union nuclear missiles in Cuba. The call came a day after Kennedy had ordered a naval blockade of Cuba and a few hours before he addressed the nation on the matter. Some in the government were not thrilled with a mere blockade and wanted a more forceful response, like an invasion.

Some things were apparent during this conversation. One, President Kennedy was a good listener. Two, he was completely at ease having the specter of nuclear war resting on his shoulders. Three, Eisenhower cut right to the heart of the matter, noting that the Soviets will do whatever they damn well pleased, their main interest is getting away with whatever the world would let them get away with.  

Kennedy, we think, did well to order the blockade instead of an invasion. One, a blockade was doable. As we showed during the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, invading Cuba was not. Second, it showed how seriously we took the matter while, equally important, giving the Soviets a way out an invasion would not offer. 

…we’ll hang on tight. 

Sometimes life offers circumstances that are as challenging as they are momentous. They may not happen with us on the world stage – or then again they might – but either way, it is often beneficial to act with restraint and not with every force available to us. You can always turn up the power, though it is difficult to retreat from restraint. This is a lesson Kennedy demonstrated during the Cuban Missile Crisis and one we can put to use each day in our lives.

If we are on our path, if we put nature and circumstance to work for us instead of trying to ram ourselves down life’s throat, the things that are meant to happen in our lives generally do.

Though sometimes we do end up hanging on tight.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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