Let’s start by remembering that middle school is pretty lousy for most everybody. It surely was for me.
There were some bright spots, though. One of the brightest was my 8th grade English teacher. She was young, and progressive before that word meant what it means today, and committed to treating her students like humans, capable of experiencing new things. We read poetry. Edgy stuff. We did a winter holiday program designed to be more inclusive than what was usual in those days. (To take part, I learned to sing in Hebrew!) And we read the play, 1776, complete with an actual album of musical numbers from the Broadway show.
I still know all the words to all the songs, along with most of the dialogue, by heart.
That turns out to be one of those good-but-hard things on this day, when it seems that all but one of the the GOP senators voted on the side of self interest rather than their sworn duty.
Through it all I could literally hear, in my mind and heart, the roll call from 1776 on the question of ratifying the Declaration of Independence.
The dangers of voting for independence, close to 250 years ago, were different. An aye vote meant committing treason against the British crown for which the penalty was death by hanging.
Today, a vote to uphold the impeachment charges meant the likelihood of political retribution. The possibility of not being re-elected. The potential loss of big money donors making huge contributions in return for vacations on private islands. The decidedly likely wrath of a man who behaves as though he believes he is above the law and basic civility.
We stand, most of you, and I, to this day, like dwarves upon giants, on the shoulders of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin and a statesman of whom you may have never heard, named Caesar Rodney, who came, literally from his death bed, to stand in favor of Independence.
I write these words with tears in my eyes and voices whispering in my ear that my fabulous new chocolate recipe might be a much wiser choice for this post.
And yet, I, like Mitt Romney, am going to be able to tell my kids and, most especially, my granddaughters, that I kept my promise today.
His promise was a vow before the God of his understanding to uphold his oath as a senator and a juror even if it meant crossing the aisle, and standing with the Democratic minority who were also, I sincerely hope, keeping their vows.
Mine is to nurture fierce compassion in the world through stories and images and experiences that have the power to create hope.
Check back soon for really a really excellent chocolate recipe. (Chocolate counts, too!)
But first, my paintbrush is calling me. I’m busy making something new out of something that wasn’t working. When I figure out what it wants to be, I’ll let you know.
For now, may you and yours be blessed on the road.