Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted's Passing

Ted Kennedy passed away last night. I wasn't going to say anything until I read a post by an influential media person this morning. Basically, he said that the death of Ted Kennedy was good for America. I'm sure this person saw Sen. Kennedy as the embodiment of a liberal agenda. He was the enemy. Now there's one less of 'them'.

Is that the way we should look at a person's life? I don't think so. It's ugly. Before I go further let me say that I'd be equally chagrined if some articulate conservative voice was dismissed in a cavalier manner by some liberal spokesman in the hours after his/her death.

I wonder if we ever see the full dimensions of a person's personality in our sound-byte culture. I was interested in Jim Wallis's take on Ted Kennedy. Wallis, by the way, is a Christian who has a strong social justice bent (for those who need labels). He wrote in a blog post that ...

"In the aftermath of the 2004 presidential election, the Democrats were roundly accused of losing the “moral values voters” in America, and of being the party of “secularists” who were hostile to faith and religion. The very first Democrat to call me and ask to talk about that accusation and how to change the moral debate in America was Ted Kennedy. He invited me to his home, where he and his wife, Vicki, engaged me in a long and very thoughtful conversation into the night about the relationship between faith, morality, and politics. Their own deep Catholic faith was evident and their articulation of it very impressive. Our discussion was not partisan at all — it was not about how to win religion back for the Democrats. Rather, we focused on the great moral issues facing the nation, and how we as people of faith needed to respond to them."

That's not the Ted Kennedy most people knew about. Maybe it's a side some don't want to know about. Maybe he should have showed that side more often. Who knows? But for all my conservative friends who might just believe that this is a good day for America because of his death I beg to disagree. We need strong voices on each side of the aisle. When we lose one we lose a bit of our capacity to have that durable system of checks and balances we hold so dear and know is so necessary for our republic to thrive..

Ted Kennedy needs to be remembered. He mattered to God. He carried a big voice and a sizable stick for a lot of years. Flawed? Absolutely. Patriot. I think so. Formidable opponent for conservatives. You bet. Did I agree with everything he stood for? No, of course not. In fact, there were times I wanted to throw a shoe at the television screen when I heard him speak. Other times, I wanted to applaud. Bottom line, I'm glad he spoke up. I'm glad he fought for what he thought was right. It helped take the rough edges off my own thinking.

Growing up as a Catholic kid in northern Wisconsin the Kennedy family was a beacon of hope for me. At one time no one was sure a Catholic could ever win the Presidency. When JFK was elected it was a good day. We felt like we knew the family. Now, the last of the brothers is dead. A part of the history that shaped me and millions of others is gone.

So, for anybody who's saying 'It'a good day for America.' Hold your tongue. Some opinions are best unexpressed. A family has lost one of their own. We've lost a piece of our history. Allow those who grieve to bury the dead.


Dee Brestin said...

Such good thoughts, Mike. I admit I thought of Chappaquidick, but you are so right -- I wouldn't want someone to remember me by my weakest moment the day I died. Good thoughts.

Mike said...

Dee: Thanks for your kind words. By the way, do you recognize anything familiar about the photo in my blog banner? I think that was taken the night you, Anita, and myself watched In My Country. Seems like a million years ago you shared Door County with us.

Blessings, Mike