A Tribute to Ted Kennedy
I have been unusually touched by the life and death of Ted Kennedy. I was especially moved by the funeral mass that was said for him, and the tributes that were made by President Obama as well as his children. In the days between his death and the funeral mass, there were many documentaries, and past interviews that he had given in years past. But suddenly, like a quilt that suddenly had all the pieces, I was getting a clear picture of what guided Ted Kennedy's life.
The first key came from his mother's lesson to her children, that reminded the Kennedy children, that although they were born into privilege, it didn't mean that they should just sit back and enjoy. She recited a Bible verse, "To whom much is given, much will be expected." And when you look at the Kennedy family as a whole, you have a past President of the United States, Senators, Congressional reps, an ambassador or two, the founder of Special Olympics, Governors, Authors, Journalists, and the list goes on. This family has a clear understanding that if you are a Kennedy, your life had better make a difference! And they have made a difference. Ted Kennedy brought forth and into fruition more bills to help the poor than any other Senator in US history. It was his guiding principal in life. To help the less fortunate; not to make himself feel better, but because he had been blessed with abundance, and he therefore had an obligation to use his abundance to help those who were in need. He spoke for the voiceless, he used his power and influence for the powerless. It is quite the contrast to so many of the wealthy now who have a sense of entitlement. It is quite the contrast from the Bernie Madoff's of the world who can intentionally steal whole life savings and investments from innocent people, in order to add another mansion, more luxury cars, and jewels, etc. and think nothing of it.
So, what is the difference between the Kennedy's who are privileged but see it as a responsibility to pay forward, or give back, and those who are just guided by their greed? And for the Kennedy's I would say it was their Roman Catholic Faith. The Roman Catholic Church, for all their faults have long had a commitment to caring for the poor. For all the faults of Ted Kennedy, Chappaquiddick included, he was a man of faith. He often went to the church alone to pray, not just when he was at the end of his life, but whenever he had a challenge in Senate, or needed courage, or dealt with hardship in his life like two children with cancer, the loss of two brothers to a violent death, etc.
So, while he made mistakes in his life, we all have. He also did more good for those in this country because of his commitment to the poor. He took on the calling of his family that he had a responsibility to those less fortunate than him. But he also had a faith that guided him and gave him strength throughout his life, and caused him to do so much good that was long lasting.
So as I remember his life, I will place more emphasis on the good that he did, as opposed to the mistakes he made. I will put more emphasis on the redemption he experienced in his life and proved in his actions than I will on the actions that caused him to need redemption. I would hope that others would look at my life and see my mistakes as paling in comparison to the accomplishments, and see the ways that I attempted to give to others, and show compassion, more than the times I was less than giving or compassionate.
So, rest in peace, Teddy, and I pray for comfort and peace for your wife and family. But you did make a huge difference in this life and I thank you for that.