I’m cautiously optimistic in my small corner of the world tonight. The news today brought another horrific death by beheading of an American journalist. CNN was all over it with photos and video that I declined to watch. A mother’s anguish at her son’s horrifying end of life was more than I could stomach.
Yet I am optimistic and proud. A small miracle occurred in New England that will never make the international media scene never mind the national news. It was brought home to me by a conversation I had with two elderly women as I cashed them out today. They were commenting on the recent win by our local grocery store. The employees went on strike because the board of directors wanted to replace the CEO. The company was a family owned business. The employees were not unionized and they believed whole-heartedly in the man at the helm.
All told it was costing this small grocery store chain something in the neighborhood of Ten Million dollars a week in lost sales during the strike. As shoppers, we all had to find alternative venues. Prices were higher, service was lower and this corner of the world watched in awe as the people stood up and said a collective, “NO” to corporate tactics.
Other businesses benefited. Farmer’s markets, farm stands, local butchers all saw a jump in traffic and sales. We consumers rethought where our food comes from. It was a good thing in many ways for the local economy. What struck me most was the face of strangers. When I went to the newly reopened Market Basket for the first time, I was struck by the happiness. Employees were giving high-fives to customers. Everyone was smiling and saying, “It’s so good to be back!”
The elderly ladies today brought it all home when they commented it was so reminiscent of the ’60s when people believed that if they stood up and said, “We’re not going to take it!” that change could actually be made. The belief that yes, one or two or twenty-two or a hundred and two people really can make a difference.
Julia, who grew up in Montana and hates the fact that New England has too many trees, said it best tonight. ” Who but New England, where the houses date back to the days when the founding fathers said ‘NO” to England, could have the backbone to stand firm for what is right?” Tonight, I am proud to be me. I am proud to be from New England. I am proud to be an American, because I have lived for many years in places where that was the first thing people saw about me.