Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Best Wishes for the Senator

When a political opponent suffers a personal crisis, especially one of health, we have a choice to make. When that opponent has been a powerful foe, strident and even demagogic at times, it's tempting to express pleasure. I, of course, am not above such low sentiments. I wish that I were, but it's one area where my humanity makes me appear inhuman.

But now it appears that Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy has not suffered a stroke, but a seisure brought on by a malignant brain tumor.

Those saying "It couldn't happen to a nicer guy" or "Serves him right for doing X for Y years" need only know that they, too, will have an end, leaving behind people who love them.

My own father and I disagreed politically. He was a lot more liberal than I am, and an atheist. He contracted cancer and died after a long illness. Our disagreement on politics and religion didn't harm our relationship, as far as I know, and in his later years we would have discussions that we could not have had without our differences.

He was a good man, and Senator Kennedy reminds me of him. Dad was a hearty drinker, and never lost his small-town ways. Arrogant and something of an intellectual snob, he regularly bent over backwards to help those less fortunate than himself.

Though I think his policies are misguided, Senator Kennedy is at least genuine, and believes in what he professes. In a government full of windsocks, that is something to respect.

Now, those rejoicing over the Senator's pain may be convinced that they themselves are better people than he, and so are more deserving of health and life. Then surely their own loved ones will be all the more disappointed when those now rejoicing do themselves begin the universal struggle at the end of life.

For those who love us do not necessarily agree with us. Senator Kennedy may be loved by people who agree with you in every detail except for their affection for him. And you rejoice when they are stung by the news of his illness.

If you cannot think of those affected by his eventual passing, of which this hospitalization is a stark reminder, think of those who will be affected by your own. Who will weep? Who will miss your patronage?

If no one springs to mind, then I wonder who indeed has the better of whom?

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