Dan Takes a Small Step to Reach Across the Aisle

Somehow mail-in balloting works here in Maine! Go figure. Once my 2020 election ballot was mailed, I then placed it safely in the green mailbox outside the York Town Hall. Hannah and I are playing our part to elect a new president for 2021. 

When you drive by our place, you will see a We Believe sign promoting that Black Lives Matter, No Human is Illegal, and Science is Real

We have another sign supporting our friend Patty Hymanson, our state rep in her re-election bid for the Maine House.

Our neighbors across the street have the signs supporting the current president and others in his party.  These are good folks; they are the first to come to the aid of their neighbors, especially Hannah and Dan. 

It turns out their son Johnny is running for the same state rep position as our friend Patty.

And after thinking about it, a few days ago I sent this text to Johnny’s dad, our neighbor whom we’ve known for thirty years.

I have been meaning to text how impressive it is that Johnny is in the District 4 race.  As Teddy Roosevelt said, your son got into the “arena” and took a stand.  He walked the walk.  As parents you have done a heckuva job.  Congrats to you all.

Dad responded, Thank you so much.  I value your words. 

It’s a small step forward. 

Here is an excerpt from the preface of Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly quoting Teddy Roosevelt’s speech, often referred to as “The Man in the Arena” speech, delivered at the Sorbonne in 1910.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points our how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again…

Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Dan and Hannah and the Yard Signs of 2020

In yards in our neighborhood, signs are appearing on front lawns and weirdly in trees for the current president.  At about a five to one ratio, we being the one, the signs favor the current occupant of the White House and dominate the yard-scape here on Chases Pond Road.

Having lived in this neighborhood for nearly 40 years, we are friendly with our neighbors but not really close.  It seems like a typical 21st century neighborhood that for the most part keeps to themselves and live lives with their circle of friends and family. 

A week ago, a friend of the family, State Rep Patty Hymanson, stops by and asks us to put up a sign supporting her re-election to the Maine Legislature. Our Chases Pond Road is an active country road that leads into town or south onto I-95 to New Hampshire and Boston.  Within the hour, we replace our Dalai Lama sign with hers. 

Then a few days later, on our weekly visit to our daughter Molly’s place, she gives us a We Believe sign.

For some context, in March as the pandemic was in its infancy, Hannah and I gave each of our kids $200 to support their immediate needs as well donate some of the money to a cause they believe in. 

Our daughter’s family surprises us by donating all the money we gave them. While our grandsons Max set up a neighborhood ice cream get-together and Owen donated money to the local food pantry, Tip supported Black Lives Matter in Boston and Molly contributed to Bail Bonds, fighting against the reality that what kind of trial folks get depends on the amount of money they have.   Further, this summer they took their sons to Black Lives Matter rallies in their hometown supporting social justice and peace.

By the next morning, we place the We Believe sign in our front yard.

As is our nature, Hannah and I can seem “nice” and self-effacing, legitimately shy and introverted.  Characteristics that others can mistakenly take as wishy-washy and lacking substance.  We want our yard signs to send a different message.

We are Obama blue in a neighborhood of red upon red.  Dan, what about dialogue with your neighbors?  Rather than debating, it seems reasonable to have conversations to learn about the other’s point of view.  That is a valid point. But for the next thirty-one days, I’d rather spend my time supporting my candidates than learning about their support of the current chief executive. 

A bigger man might spend the time seeking out the other side before November 3, but I guess I am just not that bigger man.  And anyway, there is no way on God’s Good Green Earth that I would vote for the Republican nominee for president. 

For the time being our signs will identify where we stand and where they stand; and that will create a mini-wall between us.  But come November, the signs will come down and we will invite our neighbors to bring a frog to our roadside Frog Wall, and perhaps some non-political conversation and connection. 

We can all be a part of Frog Nation. And so can you!