What Matters

Paula has been up in New Hampshire since last month. She and campaign workers of all ages have been working in states near and far to them for months. Yes most of them are younger, without homes, jobs and families to take care of while those of us who have those things do what we can. We cross borders to help. For disasters, family gatherings, celebrations of all kinds.

I live in an area of three states where a few steps takes you into another tax rate, school system, set of rules and regulations. When Paula and I moved from Massachusetts, where we were legally married, to Connecticut where we had to do a ceremony with a justice of the peace to get some of the rights we had left behind reinstated, we joked that if we moved to New York, which we abut, we would have to do something else. At the time – six years ago – each state was separate and unequal.

Now they all recognize us. Cross pollination of people and ideas, different ways of being has made it easier to see the humanity in us all. When we cross a barrier we take a step in the unknowable. How will we create change, how will we be changed. I know for my own self that when I went door to door campaigning for Obama last election my life was changed forever. I am not easy with people, shy in a crowd, even shyer at your doorstep. In 2008 all the passion I experienced in my life – the civil rights movement, all the issues of the 60’s, Stonewall, and Equal Rights – came into play. I felt these issues come together in a tsunami of action I could take and believe a difference would be made.

I went door to door with a man I respected as very savvy, very used to the world I was stepping into. At the end of each day he remarked on my effectiveness, my ability to inspire and my compassion. He hardly said a word, he let me lead. Transformation. I don’t think others were as surprised as I was. The fire within me had found a place to go and a voice to give it oxygen. When I was going house to house I felt I was making the difference I was born to. I felt like the story I’d heard of the man on the beach after a storm putting stranded fish back into the ocean. When someone looked at him and the miles of beached fish and said, “you’re not making much of a difference,” and he replied, “I am to this one and this one and this one,” as he picked fish after fish and put them in the water.

I am changed by my actions. By reaching out I got feedback I couldn’t have gotten otherwise. As we get to know each other, we change. As we reach out to touch we are touched. We are not acting without the combined actions of people worldwide who we may never meet but whose light, air and water we share. If there is inequality of opportunity there is no peace among us. Yes, we are different and we don’t have to like what each one of us does or doesn’t do, but we share what we share – this earth, this life, this time – and peace within diversity is our choice. Take yourself out into the world. Stand your ground. Be a friend, love yourself, know you are loved.

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