Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Morning Church Disservice: Ted Kennedy...A Case Study In Redemption

“Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person.” ---Tennessee Williams

I watched the funeral of Ted Kennedy yesterday. I learned. I laughed. I cried. But mainly, I learned.

Think whatever you want about Kennedy’s personal flaws and/or politics, he was the embodiment of the fact that none of us are incapable of exorcising our personal demons and resurrecting ourselves.

And…his legislative acumen, his financial fortuitousness, his silver spoon hanging from his mouth when he was born, aside, Ted Kennedy taught us all something…well, at least after watching his funeral, he taught me something.

After the tragic and unfortunate Mary Jo Kopechne incident and his failed Presidential campaign in 1980...Ted Kennedy changed himself.

It was a slow change, and only after meeting and marrying his wife, Vicki, was his transformation complete.

One person after another over the last few days, has praised Teddy. Republican and Democrat. Conservative and Liberal. The Haves and Have Nots. They have all told their stories about Ted.

More often than not, they have spoken as to his greatness and more importantly, his graciousness.

I am not using my blog today to give a Liberal blow job to Ted, although trust me, I could do that with no qualms. However…

What I am speaking about today, is this…whether you agree with Ted Kennedy or not, he has indeed taught us all.

For a long time, Ted Kennedy, in spite of being a wizard of legislation as a young Senator, put himself and his good times before others. But, he grew up…he redeemed himself.

He not only put his familial burden, his work, and his duty before others…Ted, after time, put his life before others. He no longer cared about his poll numbers, his image, or his legacy.

He said to every talking head, “Fuck ‘Em, I‘m a U.S. Senator and I am going to make a difference.”

Ted Kennedy in all of his wealthy glory, went to work everyday, never shied away from what he believed in, and never forgot his mistakes and human frailties.

We have all made mistakes. We have all hurt others. We have all sinned.

Ted Kennedy did it on a more public scale than us, but he continued to do his job and live life with zeal. He did so because he forgave himself and he made things right with his Lord.

Most of my readers are self-proclaimed Christians…and yet, many of them are not Christian. That’s fine, it is what it is.

I think Ted Kennedy can teach us all a huge lesson. Ted Kennedy could have shucked it all in.

He lost several siblings, including two by the bullets of assassins….

An entire segment of America continually wanted him to run for President, an entire extended family counted on him to be their surrogate father.

In that position, I may have curled up into a fetal position and sobbed. Ted stepped up and answered the call.

Say what you want about him…I think he acted in a super-human fashion. And more importantly…

In a human fashion.



David said...

I've read some complaints that the funeral had political overtones. But I found it to be a very touching service for a man, while certainly flawed, worked very hard during his life for the downtrodden, the underprivileged and the marginalized in our society. I respected his works and I will certainly miss him and the role he played in the senate.

It was certainly clear that he aggressively shouldered the burden of being the family patriarch for the children of his murdered brothers. That alone should earn him accolades.

Cheers Matt-Man

Micky-T said...

I'm having a very hard time coming up with words to descibe what I felt during the funeral mass in Roxbury, Mass.
I really don't know how to say it...
I keep trying but I can't get the feeling...out.
So much typing and deleting....

Where would we be if we didn't have the likes of him and most of his family giving us a voice against the powerful corporations who are mutating our government and hence, our country?

Matt-Man said...

David: I watched the entire funeral...Patrick may have gotten a "bit political" but he wasn't talking about anything Ted didn't believe in or fight for durings in 46 years in Congress. Nice comment my good man. Cheers!!

Micky: I cried a bit when Teddy Jr. was speaking. The love his father had for him was deep and powerful. I miss him already and you're right, with Ted's passing there is an incredible vacuum that needs to be filled. Cheers Mick!!

Jay said...

I'm rather conflicted about Teddy. Both politically and how I feel about him personally. But I guess that's to be expected because he was pretty complex in a lot of ways.

But, you're right that he is living proof that it's never too late for any of us to turn our lives around. We're all capable of making changes and being the people we want to be.

Matt-Man said...

Jay: Politically, he was everything I want in a Senator. Of course, I think I am more Liberal than you. Personally, outside of the Mary Jo thing, he reminds me of myself and maybe that is why I dig him so.

Hell, we're even both the last nine of kids. And yeah, perhaps many folks give up on themselves too soon and without a fight. we can all change. Cheers Jay!!

Cheesy said...

Wonderful words m'dear...

Matt-Man said...

Cheesy: Thanks Cheese...I hope you have a wunnerful Sabbath. I will be spending mine passing out God's greatest gift to man...Beer. Cheers!!

Scott Oglesby said...

Although I agree with everything you said, I feel that this post deserves another kind of comment.

That was seriously a brilliant, uplifting commentary. Move over Garrison Keillor. That was as good as a NY Times op-ed piece. And I’m not usually generous with praise like that.


Michele said...

For all the good and bad about the Kennedys and Teddy in particular your point is a good one. We all have the potential to reinvent ourselves and find redemption. Sometimes, it takes longer for others to find that place in their lives. For me it was after I went back to college in my forties. Now, I try to live my life with thoughtful conviction. I have a couple of tenets that I live by that work for me. When a person finds those tenets, like Teddy did, then life gets so much easier. Okay, Eastern philosophy rant over now.

Happy Sunday to you

Dianne said...

wonderful post Matty
helped me sort out my own feelings after watching the services yesterday

I was really moved by Teddy Jr
as I was by the grandkids

and all the staff on the steps of the Capitol

I had a deep respect and fondness for Teddy and even I didn't know all the legislation he was part of

and all the things he did for people - he called every MA family who lost someone on 9/11 - he regulary checked up on them

he helped people become citizens

he straigtened out a woman's social security mess

he went to a local school every week and read with an assigned student
he helped each of them get to college

and it went on and on ...

so very human Matty
thank you for writing this so beautifully

Starrlight said...

Teddy embodied the "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country" concept to the very last day of his life. For that and for being a wonderful example of redemption he deserves every bit of praise he is getting. Nice post, Matt =)

Jeni said...

This is exactly the point I was trying to make in my post the other day -the day he died. I didn't give him a pass on the bad things he was involved in, but gee whiz, one has to be able to give him credit for the many, many good things he did achieve and for all the other things he has worked for but which have not yet come to pass.
Like you -I spent the entire day Saturday watching the funeral -on MSNBC -I found myself near tears at times, and actually crying at other times during the eulogies (especially son, Teddy Jr's) and everytime they ran the clip of Sen. Kennedy speaking at his brother (RFK's) funeral, it took me back in time to that day and the many tears I'd shed then as well as in Nov. of 1963. Out of so much sorrow and heartache, he did work to the best of his abilities to bring about change for the common people in this country, those who have no one to help fight their day-to-day battles had a champion in him. And he most certainly will be missed.
Thanks for an excellent post, Matt-Man!

Matt-Man said...

Scott: Wow...Thank you very much Scott. I appreciate your thoughts. Cheers Scott!!

Michele: I'm glad you have found "it", Michelle. And don't ever worrky about Eastern philosphy rants with me. I so dig Lao-Tzu. Cheers Michele!!

Dianne: Yeah, Teddy Jr. choked me up. There were many wonderful things like you mentioned that no one ever knew Ted did. Thanks and Cheers Dianne!!

Matt-Man said...

Starr: Damn straight, and thanks Starr. Cheers!!

Jeni: Ted euologizing RFK gets me every time. Well said Jeni, and thanks for the comment. Cheers!!

katherine. said...

well of course the funeral was a bit political....Teddy was after all a politician by trade.

there is a movie line...where Edward the Black Prince says:

Your men love you. If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough

His dedication to his family and that of his brothers tells a lot about the man. His dedication to our country will be his legacy.

an era is over.

Starrlight said...

Knights Tale!

Sorry. Had movie geek tourettes.

Matt-Man said...

Kat: Ah...Very well said. Cheers Kat!!

Starr: Ha. Cheers!!

katherine. said...

Starr: somehow I KNEW you would get that...

I love Prince Edward in that movie.

Starrlight said...

Ditto, Kat! Sad part is of course that Edward in real life died before he could take the crown.