By Mayor Brian Arrigo
Years from now, historians, sociologists, scientists and academics of all disciplines will examine the events and upheavals of the year 2020 and probably say…”wow.”
We are actually living it, staying indoors, standing in lines, wearing masks and, all the while, studying our personal roles in social justice. Our sense of equilibrium feels out of whack.
And then, amid all the anxiety and challenge and introspection that these first six months of the year have foisted upon us, every now and then there’s a moment, a pause amid the rapid tempo of the times that affirms precious truths that can stabilize us in even the most trying circumstance.
I noticed that as the calendar approaches Father’s Day, 2020. I notice the unmeasurable power of selflessness, and giving of ourselves.
I write this on a beautiful summer evening, the season’s late sunset lending a tint of orange to the surroundings. My boys Joseph and Jack have dozed off after a vigorously playful day and the fun we had playing a very modified version of baseball this evening. And I am reminded of my father.
It’s almost four years that Dad left us at the too-young age of 68. While he made his living as a pressman for over 30 years, he made his life serving the public. Whether it was school PTA, his years on the City Council, or helping out his neighbors and friends, quiet, dedicated service to the public inspired and motivated his every act.
Oftentimes, I wonder what kind of guidance or advice he’d have offered me these days, as the City enjoys unprecedented growth yet grapples with unprecedented tests. While I am sure he’d be generous with criticism—(constructive criticism, I hope…), I am pretty sure he’d steer me consistently upon a path that I can best summarize as “giving.”
A common and constant aspect of a Mayor’s job is that we hear from people, groups, and organizations who seek the assistance of the municipal government in their respective pursuits. And when the City can respond, the sense of public fulfillment overrides any shred of frustration that also comes with the job.
Maybe I didn’t realize it as a child, but I appreciate now the pure joy my Dad experienced from “giving.” As a pressman, Dad would often take home a newspaper “press plate,” the full-sized metal sheet that contained the image of a newspaper page and from which a newspaper was printed. When printing was finished, the metal plate was a solid lasting image of the particular newspaper page. Plates depicting momentous occasions quickly became a popular collectible.
Dad was a sports fanatic, and when a Boston sports event made the front page of the Boston Globe, he’d find a way to make sure that press plate came home with him that day. The first time I ever set foot in the Mayor’s office at City Hall, I was a youngster. The Globe had run a front-page story about the Red Sox and the legendary Carl Yastrzemski. Dad knew that Mayor George V. Colella was an avid Red Sox fan, so he took the press plate of that front page, and me, to deliver a gift to the Mayor.
I still have the photo of Dad handing Mayor Colella the plate, and as happy and grateful as Mayor Colella was receiving it, I am certain Dad’s joy giving it to him was greater.
I reflect on that this Father’s Day, hopeful that I live the genuine appreciation for “giving” that my Dad imparted to me. When we give, and when we truly savor the act of giving of ourselves, we can make for a better world.
Our nation, our City, and every one of us face unique demands in 2020. If we pause, and remember what is important in our lives, if we reflect on the importance and purpose of giving, we will not only survive this tumultuous year, we will all be better for it.
As a Father, I am resolved to instill that awareness in my children. As a Mayor, I aspire to exemplify it for our community. Father’s Day is an opportune time for all of us to think about it, and when we live it, all the good that will come of it will be another reason to say “wow” about 2020.