Four people I met in the park
It is Sunday morning and before church, I want to tell you about four people I met in the park yesterday. I have taken to walking there more, and I’m reaching out these days to let folks know that I’m running for office. One guy, a financial planner who I would guess is a traditional Republican, had a very lovely conversation with me. He shared that his millennial daughter has been “opening his eyes” regarding racial injustice and women’s issues. I complimented him on truly listening to her, and being open to having his eyes opened. It was wonderful to talk across the aisle and find common ground.
I spoke with a grandfather who told me that he fled Libya because of Qaddafi. Now he feels dread, recognizing the signs that his new country is going down the road to authoritarian rule. I tried to reassure him that the majority of Americans do not want that and will not let him down. But in truth, I don’t know if the 45% of us who sat out the election in 2016 will show up this time. I hope for his sake and ours they do.
There was the group of four ladies and I who talked in depth about how to make sure everyone in Ohio has healthcare. Two were clearly on the same page as me, while a third was silent and the fourth shared her fears that Medicare for All would be “socialized medicine.” Like the people who didn’t know that getting rid of “Obamacare” meant getting rid of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), she does not think of Medicare (which she likes) as “socialized medicine,” but Medicare for All would somehow turn into that fearsome thing, “socialized medicine.” I think her friends will continue the conversation with her later.
And then last but not least, I met a lovely woman who is struggling with enormous loss after moving home to help care for her aging mom. She, like so many of us, is trying to cope with the isolation of Covid, and the many stressors our upended lives have brought. I connected with her, because I understand the depth of her sadness. She thanked me for my time, as we parted. As was so often the case in my counseling career, her trusting me enough to tell me her story was as much a gift to me as what I gave to her.
This is why I run.
To reach common ground and common purpose with those who can be open to it. To keep Ohio from slipping further into despotic one-party rule. To educate and persuade that we can provide the basic need for healthcare to all our people. To let struggling souls know that there is compassion in the world for them when all they feel is abandonment, whether that be on a personal level, or on a societal level.
Then I come home and see the hilarious ad my opponent started running – where I’m pictured with a Molotov cocktail and labeled “an anarchist’s dream.” He’s right that I do want to go after the already broken system that now fills us with dread. And I wouldn’t mind lighting a fire under the butts of those who did not vote last time around. Some folks who see this ad may believe his twisted version of reality. But I have to hope, like I held out to those I talked to yesterday, that the majority of us will not let the current threats to our democracy destroy our country or our state.