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Who are your mentors: Reflections on the life of Ted Kennedy

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WASHINGTON - JANUARY 20:  Senator Ted Kennedy ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I woke up at 6:30 today, unusually early for me, and turned on the radio to hear the sad news that Edward Kennedy has died.  My condolences to his family and people close to him.

Being a UK resident, my thoughts turned a little selfishly to the consequences for the world and I reflected how great it must have been for Kennedy to have attended Obama’s inauguration – even though he had to leave early by ambulance.

Obama’s inauguration was the zenith of the Kennedy’s legacy and the Civil Rights Movement and brought life around in a full circle.  While Kennedy’s brother was seen as the marker of new generation – TV savvy and much more connected to the wider American people – Obama marks the changing of the guard to the next generation – social media savvy and much more connected to the wider world.

Edward Kennedy was also an important reader of history.  He is the man who said to Obama:  This is your time.

The role of the older generation

It is the role of the older generation to reflect on history and to bring into focus the sense of possibility of the people who come after them.

To do that we need to

  • Know our history
  • Be part of  events and have a deep sense of what is unfolding
  • Be in touch with younger people, having a deep sense both of their capacity and the skills they are developing – which might be a little beyond our personal understanding.

There is much written on the mid-life crisis – the point where we suddenly go from having the whole world ahead of us to the point where we realise that whatever happens in the world is down to us.

Often, around this time, we also find we no longer have mentors.  Life is so much easier when we have mentors.  Kennedy was one of Obama’s mentors.

Who are your mentors?

Who went before you and who brings your path clearly into focus for you?

Who are the great mentors of this time in the UK?

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