This week, the Kennedy family lost a loving patriarch, America, a great senator, and minorities, a fierce advocate. Throughout his long career, Senator Ted Kennedy fought for the basic rights and human dignity of those often ignored and dismissed, of those with little or no power. Immigrants. People of color. Low income and poor families. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.
A devout Roman Catholic, he lived out Jesus’ mandate to love one’s neighbor. He did his best to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger and heal the sick. He worked hard to pass immigration, education, health care and civil rights legislation that made this country stronger and us better. He was a good example of a public servant whose faith inspired his work but who never allowed his tradition’s dogmas and doctrines to dictate public policy or our daily lives. He respected the separation of church and state and cherished core American values of freedom and equality.
It has been said that his sense of social and economic justice stemmed from his upbringing as a Roman Catholic. He understood the New Testament’s radical message of upending the status quo and having a place at the table for all of god’s children. No one person or group is chosen or favored. In a way, he surpassed his own church in his humility and admission that he was a flawed human being. He had room in his heart and life for all people. He lived by the spirit of his faith, not by its man-made rules and laws.
By his example and inspiration, let the work go on, the cause endure, hope live and the dream never die.