Of the thousands of ridiculous actions riding the wave-crest of national
hysteria, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the
inclination to make the City of Dallas Texas a shameful scapegoat for
this historical incident, certainly hits an all-time high in zany thinking,
but perhaps a retelling of an ancient Islamic Fable may be the key to
help us regain our senses.
It seems that a certain good and wise Caliph, noticing that one of his servants appeared to be in a very nervous and upset state of mind, so he inquired as to the reason for his sudden agitation.
"Oh Master," the servant cried in dismay. "While working in the garden a few minutes ago, I came face to face with the Angel of Death. I am afraid that he has come for me, as he gave me a very sharp look. Tell me, oh wise and gracious one! What can I do? I am too young to die."
The Caliph studied a moment, then replied. "You have been a good and faithful servant, and I will gladly do all that I can to help you. Take my favorite horse and ride out as fast and as far as you can. Tell no one where you are going, and not being able to find you may cause him to change his plans."
The servant quickly did as suggested, and the Caliph, after a time, walked out into his garden where he, too, found the Angel of Death still thoughtfully musing among the flowers. The Caliph, having lived a good, useful, and long life, did not fear Death, so he came boldly to the point. "Have you come for me?" he asked.
"No indeed!" was the answer. "I just came by to admire your beautiful garden."
"If my servant were here, he would be greatly relieved to hear that," the Caliph replied. "Unfortunately, he thought that you looked rather pointedly at him a little while ago, so he rode off on my fastest horse. I really do not know where he went, or how to stop him."
"Perhaps I did give him a strange glance," the Angel of Death explained. "I was rather surprised to find him here, You see, I have an appointment with him this afternoon in Samara."
So, whether our name be Kennedy, Smith, Jones, Brown, or any other designation in this world, and no matter of what degree our distinction, we all have our "appointment in Samara," or Dallas, or Viet Nam, or Centerville, and the escape route may be the very one that takes us there. Nothing can be done to prevent or delay our rendesvous, and it is equally as foolish to blame Dallas, its Police, or any of its Citizens for the dramatic termination of the lives of Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Tibbitts, or Mr. Oswald, as it would be to blame the millions of voters in both Massachusetts and the Nation, without whose ballot there still would be with us, plain John F. Kennedy, Citizen.
Huntington Park, California
From the Earl Cabell Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University. Used with permission.