My guest -blog # 3 on Naalu Vari Note (நாலு வரி நோட்டு) was published a fortnight ago.
Here is an English blurb of my Tamil post:
“And so my fellow Americans!
Ask not what your country can do for you;
Ask what you can for your country.”
Many of us have heard the above political prose delivered by John F Kennedy (JFK), the President of the United States of America. JFK delivered these lines in his Inaugural address to the Congress on the 20th of January 1961.
JFK – photo credit: Google images
Ever since this quote has been echoed in every corner of the globe and have repeated again and again mostly by the politicians. The famous lines are still popular even today after fifty-two years!
The inaugural address of JFK (4.00 – 4.30 seconds)
The origin of the lines
The world always associated/associates the viewpoint with JFK only. Did JFK really write those 30 seconds ideology? Has he borrowed it from someone else?
Generally, political leaders employ script-writers to pen their messages. Theodore C. Sorenson (TCS) was appointed as JFK’s script writer. Half the world never heard of Sorenson either.
So where did JFK – TCS borrowed the school of thought?
Some may argue that it was the influence of JFK’s school teacher.
But the evidence leans towards Khalil Gibran (1813 – 1931). Khalil Gibran was born in modern day Lebanon and migrated to United States as a youngster. The literary writer Gibran was well versed in Arabic and English Languages. He was well known for his artistic talents. His literary works were popular among the Arabic and English-speaking world. JFK believed to be a fan of Khalil Gibran.
In 1925, Gibran wrote a literature titled “The New Frontier”. (http://leb.net/~mira/)
Khalil Gibran (1813 – 1931) photo credit: Google images
In The New frontier he aimed at the then political scene of the Middle Eastern countries:
“Come and tell me who and what are you.
Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you?
Or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country?
If you are the first, then you are a parasite; is the second,
Then you are an oasis in a desert.”
Now you could figure out the connection.
Tragically the world lost JFK to a gunshot. JFK’s epitaph carries the above prose in the Arlington cemetery. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:JFKInauguralInscriptionGravesite.jpg
MGR (South Indian Cinema)
The same lines, what JFK uttered were used in a Tamil cinema song. The lyricist Vaali penned it for M. G. Ramachandran (MGR). The Sri Lankan born (then Ceylon) MGR migrated to India during his young age and in later years became an actor.
MGR systematically used the silver screen as his political pedestal. His movies, specially the songs in his films carried the sentiments of a common man. His movies struck a chord with the average citizen and attracted the public towards him.
The actor-producer & Director eventually became the Chief Minister of the State of Tamil Nadu (South India) in 1977. He was the first actor, elected to govern in India and he may well the first male actor turned statesman to govern a state or country. The American actor Ronald Reagan became the President of USA four years after MGR came to power. MGR served three terms in the Office.
The Tamil song was written in 1972 for the movie “Naan Yen Piranthaen”(Why was I born?)
First line of the song started with the movie-title and the late T.M.Soundrarajan rendered his voice to the music of Shankar Ganesh.
For those who could read Tamil, below is the link for your perusal.