Lessons From Sir Ted

datePosted on 12:39, August 26th, 2009 by Kosmic Kurt

The passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy is a sad affair. But with the passing of any individual it is customary to look at their life. Senator Kennedy led one of the most productive lives any individual could aspire to lead. Yes, he had his issues. And yes, there are many that looked to him with contempt for the overt excesses he manifested in his personal life. But no one can deny the accomplishments that he achieved in the area of human rights for all Americans – and the world, for that matter.

In his 47-year-career as a senator, Kennedy authored over 2,500 pieces of legislation – many of those becoming some of our most important and cherished laws. Throughout his career, Kennedy was awarded many titles. He was even made and honorary Member of the British Empire (knighted) by Queen Elizabeth earlier this year – a testament to his broad reaching influence. He was a civil rights and health care leader with no equal. But what really set him apart was that he did all of this in spite of who he was.

Edward Kennedy was born into a life of privilege that most people will never even begin to comprehend. Yet, he spent the majority of his life fighting for those who were not so privileged. He was the voice of the poor and the oppressed. He was the hero of the working class. He was the last line of defense against the oppressive large industry or government powers that threatened to injure the average citizen. But more than that, it’s how he achieved what he did. He reached out to his enemies as well as his allies. People who opposed him also respected him immensely. Kennedy was a liberal Democrat. He was fierce and relentless and yet he has been hailed as the greatest senator of our time from friend and foe alike. His ability to work with those who held different world views is perhaps best represented by conservative Republican Orrin Hatch commenting on the passing of Kennedy:

“Today America lost a great elder statesman, a committed public servant, and leader of the Senate. And today I lost a treasured friend. Ted Kennedy was an iconic, larger than life United States senator whose influence cannot be overstated. Many have come before, and many will come after, but Ted Kennedy’s name will always be remembered as someone who lived and breathed the United States Senate and the work completed within its chamber.”
–Sen. Orrin Hatch, 8/25/09

That was said by an opponent. We could all learn an important lesson from Kennedy. Be strong and firm in your convictions but at the same time understand that you do not live in a vacuum. One must learn to work with others of opposing positions in order to get work done. As atheists we need to embrace the things we have in common with theists to work for the greater good of society. It does not mean we should ever back down or roll over – not by a long shot. But sometimes we need to give a little in order to gain a lot.

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