Inspiration is a funny thing. You can’t plan for it and the
more you chase it, the more elusive it becomes. And then, out of the blue, when
you are not expecting it, it comes to you and you are moved to tears. That was my experience this week hearing
former Senator Olympia Snow speak at the Lawyers Club annual dinner. She gave us the whole story. She let us in. We
got to feel what is was like for her growing up in an immigrant family, how she
coped as a child when her parents died, and how she felt as a young woman when her husband died. At each juncture, she had the option of
rolling over, or taking what she was dealt, and running with it.
And run she did!
Olympia’s story is not the stuff that makes for excited headlines.
To the contrary, her political career was best known for the compromise she
brought, for her statesmanlike conduct. Today we refer to it as bipartisanship.
But that terms is a better indicator of our own limited way of thinking of the
world, the false dilemma of our modern day paradigm.
Olympia doesn’t live in the same world that most of us do.
Hers is a far more expansive place. Like the poet she quoted, Olympia believes in
talking to people, rather than walking past them like they are stones that don’t
matter. How else could she have found
middle ground with so many officials who were elected based on principles
contrary to her own? How else could she
have quietly but consistently delivered the vote that would determine the