So I started posting some things on our Staten Island USA website, things about which I felt deeply, and I did it for two reasons:
With “Some of the People in My Life,” I wanted to create a platform of sorts to counter the trolls and their daily vitriol, found all-too-often in the comments section of our local daily, and sometimes even on our own Facebook pages. The gratuitous negativity, much of it steeped in ignorance, is toxic.
I wanted to push back against it by talking about the many good people in our community, the dedicated, the selfless, those with an unmatched generosity of spirit who do their good work in the background, without fanfare or recompense or any expectation of either. I want to use this medium to share with, and maybe even help, those who, like me, are tired of the hatred emanating from the pathetically uninformed.
Secondly, I recognize that tomorrow is not guaranteed for me - or for any of us. I was inspired by the legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano, whose life was tragically cut short by cancer at the age of 47. In a speech he gave shortly before he died, Jimmy V, who was born in Corona, Queens, told the world that each day we should endeavor to do three things:
If you do those three things, he said “that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.” Well, I want something special. We all should. And that was the birth of Laugh, Think, Cry Fridays.
Hemingway once said: "Write hard and clear about what hurts,” and I just might do that along the way. But I will certainly write about good people, good things and other truths good for the soul. While I have this bully pulpit, I'm going to use it.
I refuse to be confined to negativity. I refuse to be confined to playing “gotcha” politics, and I refuse to give much thought to those that do. Instead of growing more cautious as I get closer to the finish line, I want to be more outspoken – certainly about what’s wrong in our borough, but even more forcefully about what is right.
In a wonderful episode of the West Wing, Chief of Staff Leo McGarry tells President Bartlet that they’ve been too conservative, too tentative, and that it was time they took off the gloves. “You have a strategy for that?” asked the President.
“I have the beginnings of one,” says McGarry, holding up a yellow pad upon which he has written the words “Let Bartlet Be Bartlet.”