The eyes of a nation weep today for one of the world’s greatest statesmen has passed away. Ted Kennedy was the last of a great family of social reformers. For years he was the spokesman for the poor and the downcast. Coming from a fantastically wealthy and powerful family as he did, it was heartwarming to know that the poor were always on his mind for although rich in fact everyone who knew him knew that he was poor in heart.
I am not myself a religious man, but I respect those, like Ted Kennedy, who do have a staunch spirituality and actually live by their beliefs. It is true that Kennedy was a Catholic, but this did not hold him back. Instead of being bound by outmoded and medieval ideas like many Catholics, Ted Kennedy was a free spirit and an independent thinker. With his divorce and re-marriage he showed that some Catholics are able to be faithful to their religion while still thinking outside the box. In his support of abortion rights he showed that it is possible to be Catholic while still believing in individual freedom. Ted Kennedy showed all of us who are not Catholics that it is possible to be a modern person living in the twenty first century while still having a sense of spirituality and hope.
Unlike the Pope in Rome, Ted knew he was not infallible. When it emerged that he enjoyed conviviality with his young nephews he was open about it. When he lost the presidential nomination he accepted his fallibility and defeat with dignity and honesty. Always a humble and faithful servant of whatever President was in office, Ted was a kind of “President for Life”. All who knew him knew that he was a servant of the servants of the State.
With his tousled mane and boyish grin, Ted Kennedy was the youngest of the great Kennedy clan. But soon he became the elder statesman. He was called the ‘lion of liberalism’. In my mind he was always the Lion King. Debonair and charming to all, Ted Kennedy was known as a man’s man and to some as a lady’s man. Always the gentleman and the scholar, Ted Kennedy always did everything he could to advance the rights and privileges of women. Time and again he rescued women from dangerous circumstances and did everything possible to save those in danger of sinking under the dark waters of masculine chauvinism, prejudice and injustice.
He was also the champion of children. In his later years he became a kind of grandfather figure to many. He helped bring about the ‘no children left behind’ series of famous novels about the return of Jesus Christ and the so called ‘rapture’ which were turned into successful films which were moving and inspiring to millions. In his efforts to help children he also championed free and easy access to abortion which enabled many poor children from racial minorities to never have to live lives which would have been poor and unhappy.
This week a light has gone out. A dream has died. The last Lancelot of Camelot has gone to his rest. The barge has slipped away from the moorings. The catafalque rests in solemn dignity as the ghost ship drifts silently to the misty isle of Avalon where he will join his two royal brothers, now they lie the dignity of death together for the battle is over and the victory is won.
Good night sweet prince. And flights of angels wing thee to thy rest…
Todd Unctuous is forty two. To learn more about Todd go here.