My thoughts this morning when I awoke were of the Dalai Lama, who turns 72 today. This evening, I will join millions of people around the globe in offering prayers for His Holiness’ health and long life.
I was again thinking of the Dalai Lama as I walked outside this afternoon to grab some lunch – not sure why, but for some reason, I was thinking about the fact that he has been without a country for nearly 50 years now, and in that time, he never seems to tire in his effort to support, promote and even protect the Tibetan people, as best he can.
With this thought fresh in my mind, a woman who is a bit of a Washington landmark rode by on her bicycle. Connie Picciotto, pictured here, has also been devoted to a single cause for many years. In her effort to promote peace and protest the development of nuclear weapons, Connie has lived outside the front gate of the White House for more than 26 years. The summer after my year in third grade, she took up residence directly across the street from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, living in a tent on the edge of Lafayette Park, literally at the White House’s front door.
As she slowly rolled past me on Connecticut Avenue NW on a rickety old bike, a child with a family of tourists yelled out, loud enough for Connie to hear, “Look, Mom, it’s that crazy woman we saw in front of the White House!”
I had to stop and stare as the family, all wearing matching FBI T-shirts, continued on their way, the dad shaking his head in that kids-say-the-darndest-things kind of way.
What makes this woman crazy, I thought? The fact that she doesn’t give up? The fact that we don’t know much about her? The fact that she is so committed to a cause that she believes in that she has lived outdoors for the last quarter-century?
Certainly there are people who think the Dalia Lama is crazy, or that I’m crazy, for that fact, because I stop to scoop up earthworms who find themselves stranded on sidewalks.
To be perfectly clear, I know that Connie has given media interviews where she talks about being attacked by laser beams from the White House. But I guess I’m just an optimist: what a different world this would be if everyone had just a touch of Connie Picciotto’s special brand of what a family from Middle America thinks is “crazy.”