Friday, August 28, 2009
The most touching one yet...
You know, there are so many truly wonderful cartoons out there honoring Ted Kennedy that it's difficult to decide which ones to share with you at times. But I had no difficulty at all choosing the one copied above because it so powerfully reflects the central value with which I was brought up.
I think it's highly likely that I could say the words noblesse oblige (and explain them) before I could recite the alphabet and so I find myself utterly astonished that many people today have never heard of the concept. The privileged are obligated. "To whom much is given, much is required." The privileged have a responsibility to recognize that they didn't somehow deserve their privileges and so, therefore, they (we) are obligated to give back, to do everything we can to help those who are not so privileged and to leave the world (at least our little part of the world) a better place than we found it.
And this is not necessarily about money. My family did not have a lot of money but I was never given to believe that money and privilege are necessarily equivalents. Rather, I was reminded over and over that I had benefited from the enormous value of having been brought up in polite society and also from having been brought up to be literate, informed, appreciative of the arts and possessed of a finely tuned social conscience.
I simply do not, can not, comprehend the currently prevailing attitude (so popular among Republicans) of "I've got mine; screw you." I can not understand how such an attitude is not only embraced and tolerated but also hotly defended as being the truly ethical, moral approach.
I have never thought that the Kennedys were perfect people or that they were to be emulated in every respect. But on the subject of noblesse oblige they have excelled and they have excelled spectacularly. And Ted Kennedy lived long enough and persevered enough to demonstrate how much enormous good can be done by living both consistently and courageously according to this core value.
May he rest in peace. May light perpetual shine upon him. And may we all be inspired and strengthened by his example.