Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In the Overall Scheme of Things

The news of Senator Ted Kennedy's diagnosis made it impossible for me, like many others, to think of little else yesterday.

And, while CNN blasted nonstop coverage of the Democratic primaries in Tennessee and Oregon, I found myself utterly distracted, and thinking-- clearly, some things are more important than politics. The love for one's family, children, spouse; the love for one's friends; life and death.

I found myself thinking, too, of the times the Grim Reaper paid me a visit, as it has Senator Kennedy, only to have me close the door in his face, and say "No, thanks. We don't want any."

Words are almost as stubborn as termites, but suffice it to say that the Senator's news is everyone's news----the owner of a newspaper stand in a Bay Area train station, the driver of a bus in Seattle, the mother holding an ornery infant, the veterano in a Los Angeles barrio, the maitre d' at a Bel Air hotel., and the shoe shine man on Park Avenue.

Yes, America took a time-out not just to say a prayer, but to honor the service of one whose dedicated vision is responsible for many of the enlightened social programs we have in place, and to think of the Kennedy brothers, Jack and Bobby, who are waiting in the wings with that bottle of champagne to celebrate the launch of a new era, a Democratic victory in November, and their brother's hand in that.

But, it is more important to remember this:

It's not who we are, but what we give

It's not what we say, but what we do

It's not our accomplishments, how many initials we have after our names,
nor how many zeros there are in our net worth

it is how we love, and only how we love, that counts.

It is not how long we live,
but how well we live

and what we leave behind for those who come after.

If years could be meted out based on what one gives to the human
community, Senator Kennedy would live forever.

But, wise men know that mortality is life's best friend

only those who disdain this gift

will dread the passage.

Death is our alarm clock

ever threatening to ring

to remind us that we don't have forever.

But, there are some, like Sen. Kennedy,
who need no reminding who have walked with purpose
who have lived for the greater good.

There are those who embrace laughter in the face of pain
peace in the face of war
light in the face of
darkness and,
in the end, this is all that matters.

Those who speak truth to power will join you, Senator, in your fight not to
defy the inevitable, but to show that
even Death must sometimes bow his head and,
in doing so, admit that
you are the better man.