-"The work goes on,
the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die."
Senator Edward Kennedy
Death should bring people together.
It should be a moment for us all to pause and realize our own mortality
and the finality of life on this mortal coil. It should be a time for
sadness of a life lost but hopefully reflection of a life lived. Unfortunately,
the nastiness of politics does not adhere always to the rules of life.
It has been a scant few hours since the announcement of the passing
of Senator Edward Kennedy and already it has produced the best and the
worst from us all.
I do not stand in judgment of Senator
Kennedy as I did not when Ronald Reagan passed away. A life lost is
a life lost. Both were inherently flawed men. Neither one better than
the other. Both with mistakes marring their pasts. Reagan is revered
amongst the right wing despite his obvious illegal activities as President
and appalling economic policies. Kennedy is revered amongst liberals
despite his horrific decision at Chappaquiddick. I would not seek to
sum up the life of either man based upon their mistakes. But politics
does. It is a sad statement that the hate embedded within the political
rancor of this country has obscured us from our own common humanity.
So I write today from the words of a man who worked his entire life
in the service of this country and what those words should remind us
of, as we all pause to remember and then move forward.
The work goes on. Indeed it does in
this country. No matter what work we find ourselves in, it will survive
us. It will march forward without us. It will not die with us. This
shows me a couple of things. One, we should not allow ourselves to be
defined by our work. Too often we can put so much into our professional
lives that it becomes who we are. We can become obsessed, or fanatical.
We can devote disproportioned amounts of time to our work and excuse
it away as our life erodes from the inside out. President Bush once
described to a woman who had three jobs as "uniquely American."
God I hope not. The work always going on also teaches me that my role
in the grand scheme is not as important as I make it out to be. Don't
ever over-value yourself. There is a life out there to be lived, beyond
the work which will always go on.
The cause endures. Whatever your cause
may be, it will always endure. If you are a bleeding heart liberal,
your cause will endure beyond your efforts and even your life. There
will always be people willing to join the cause, believe in the cause
and work on behalf of the cause. If you are a die-hard conservative,
your cause too will endure beyond your efforts and even your life. If
your cause is helping the disabled, educating kids, or fighting against
global poverty -- your cause will endure. Unfortunately, even if your
cause is blinding hate; it will endure. Causes endure because people
are inherently seeking purpose and a sense of belonging. But like work,
because the cause will endure, don't make your entire life be about
the cause. Too often people make their lives a part of their cause instead
of making their cause a part of their life.
Hope still lives. While he was dying
of cancer, College Basketball Coach Jim Valvano once said, "don't
give up, don't ever give up." That is the mantra of hope. No matter
how dark the Bush years got, hope still lived for liberals and no matter
how dark the Obama years may seem to be heading, hope will still live
for conservatives. We go to work with the hope of a better life. We
fight our causes for the hope of victory. Hope is the stitching that
holds our common humanity together when everything else is trying to
tear it apart. It is what makes us uniquely human. I can guarantee you
this -- if you put your hope entirely in your work or your cause it
will one day leave you hopeless. A life without hope is broken.
Dreams shall never die. As long as
the person is dreaming, they are alive. As long as we are dreaming,
we hold onto our hope. Dreams provide a vision for our hope. Armed with
dreams and hope we fight the battle of our causes and do the work that
must be done in our lives. A life without dreams is one lived in despair.
When one has no hope; one dreams not.
That is not what this country was founded
on. America was founded on the belief that hard work was worthy and
if you worked hard enough, you could make a better life for yourself
and your family. It was founded on the belief that there is a cause
greater than ourselves. While these two concepts have taken some hits
lately and suffered some damage; hope still springs eternal and dreams