Chris T. Pernell
Doctor and Clergywoman

Chris T. Pernell

Chris T. Pernell is a doctor and an ordained clergywoman in New Jersey. Two of her recent projects include a prison-based wellness program and a faith-based childhood obesity initiative.

Do the Right Thing

In recent days, senators from both sides of the aisle lamented the absence of the indefatigable Sen. Ted Kennedy, the famed American lawmaker from a storied family. Known as an adept negotiator skilled in the art of pragmatic deal-making, health care was his life's passion. Sen. Kennedy was but a mere mortal like you and me, but he possessed a lion's heart and a compelled spirit. Before his death, a precarious health-care battle waged, and still, the outcome remains out of focus. Will we or won't we do the right thing?

Sen. Kennedy championed universal health care as a right and not a privilege. Though a man of privilege himself, he labored for working men and women, those who live in the shadows, on the edge of town and the other side of the tracks. Indeed, he fought for the faceless huddled masses. Whether or not you agreed with his ideology or philosophical bent, you could not dispute his charisma. Better yet, as an unstoppable force in the senate, he dared to break the gridlock which threatened social progress.

Will his mandate pass away in the night? Or will his booming voice continue to ring true as legislators drag themselves back from a summer recess where it seems more was lost than was gained? Prayerfully, the legacy of the man will challenge others to return to the table and deftly pluck off one or two in support of the cause of his life. Moreover, the senator who stood for a historic candidate looks to pass the torch to a standard-bearer to light the way? Will a young president reminiscent of a bygone iconic America take on the mission? Only the future can tell, however, the nation would be well-served and likewise honor his memory with a new contract, a covenant to ensure health coverage for all.

What Ted Kennedy taught us in life and death: is to ask what each of us can do to enable a more perfect union and a truer democracy. Sen. Kennedy, both a man of frailty and redemption, in his final bow, leaves a hefty down payment on health reform. What becomes of that sizable spark lies in the destiny and power of those who remain. Will we tempt failure, renew hope, dream bigger and ultimately do? Now in the company of a cloud of witnesses, he watches. Rather we must do the right thing.

By Chris T. Pernell  |  August 27, 2009; 4:23 AM ET  | Category:  Health Care Reform Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: A Leader Committed to Health Reform | Next: Listen to Kennedy's 1980 Speech -- and Rally

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