It is a long road from Maine to Madison. Ironically, it is a public investment from taxpayers that is allowing me to drive on interstate highways to get there. It has been giving me a lot of time to really think about what is important in life.
I grew up in a trailer in Bryant Pond, Maine…known for being the last town in the country to have crank phones. The wealth gap never really struck me. We were all working class and all our parents worked incredibly hard to provide opportunity for their children. My dad worked what seemed like 95 hours per week as a long haul trucker. My mother worked as a public health nurse and just got her PhD in nursing a little over a year ago. We were part of the working class, just barely able to keep up with the piling bills.
The old adage, “I started out with nothing. I still have most of it,” truly applies.
I now represent a small community in Portland, a respite for the weary advocate. It’s a place where working class values are celebrated almost as much as the cuisine we are renowned for. My roots are deeply grounded in the perspective that can only be carved through experience. I know what it is like to savor an elegant dinner and I know what it is like to choke down the last of the rice because that is all that is left to eat. I take no meal for granted.
To be traveling cross country to a city I know nothing about is perhaps one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Will that trip mean anything to anyone? Will my voice be drowned out by the Glenn Beck of the world or could it possibly rise above the sea of anger.
Does hope really haven chance anymore?
Onward we drive past towns and cities where parents are pinching their pennies and where grandparents are rationing out their prescriptions. Amidst it all, children sleep, dreaming of a world of opportunity. . . A world we are obligated to prepare for them.
Will Madison have the answers I seek? Or will it be a total bust, a disappointment… Or will I be forced to face the truth that we have already lost?
Still hope calls me, beckons me like a siren song. It is like our collective unconscious is awakening. We all know something is wrong, but we cannot put our finger on it. Young people around the world are rising up and demanding justice, equity and economic opportunity.
My dad always quips, “hunger makes a good sauce.” I think hunger makes a good strike.