My holiday season has filled with the usual series of long family dinners, and the long family conversations that accompany them. Various topics would wind their way through every meal, but by the time wine glasses had been emptied and dessert has been served, the conversation inevitably circled back to that most irresistable subject - the state of world affairs.
There was a lot to reflect upon this year - the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, the rise of the 99 percent. There was a powerful theme of passionate people coming together to confront the injustices of their societies, and the result has been a broader national awareness of the inequality that pervades American life.
In some of our Emerge trainings, especially those where we have had to stand up in front of each other and make our campaign "pitch" about the problems and solutions that are most important to us, we have had our occasional share of tears. This is because the women in my class are talking about issues that are deeply personal to them, the social and economic realities that affect the lives of their neighbors and loved ones.
The saying comes to mind that "women run for office to do something, and men run for office to be somebody." I won't speculate about all men's political ambitions, but at least among the Emerge Maine class of 2012, this statement absolutely holds true - the amazing women who surround me all want to do something.
As I sat at the table with aunts, uncles, and grandparents throughout the holidays, I was reminded that the vital themes that defined this year can help inspire us at the community level. While I'm not running right now, it has been wonderful to watch each woman in my class decide whether she is ready to run, and thrilling to see many of them rise to the challenge. I am excited to see them occupy the Maine legislature, and school boards and town councils all over the state.