I found out last year that my Mom always wanted to be a doctor. And she never had the chance.
That's sad. Not just for her, but for all of us.
She is 82 years old. She grew up in Montreal, Canada.
Her brother is an OBGYN. He's in his nineties, still practicing medicine four days a week. There are families in Montreal where my uncle has delivered three generations of women: grandmother, mother and daughter.
That's the life that my mother wanted. She would have opened a clinic with my uncle, and they would have practiced medicine side by side -- for half a century.
That didn't happen, because she's a woman. And in the time and place when/where she grew up, her gender disqualified her from being a doctor.
Her life certainly wasn't wasted; she became an excellent kindergarten teacher. But she wanted to be a doctor, and she would have been very good at it, just like her brother.
So, who lost out? Well, she did, because she didn't get to do the kind of work that would have been her highest and best use, thanks to discrimination against women.
But we all lost out. When individuals are chained and thwarted by discrimination - or poor education, or poor health, or addiction, or poverty, or hunger, or any other artificial barrier - we all lose out.
And the converse is true. When everyone can be all that he or she can be, we all win. When we are all better off individually, we are all better off collectively. We fulfill our dreams, and we touch the sky.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom. It's too late for you to be a doctor, but not too late for your granddaughter Star, and lots of other bright, talented girls and boys. I'll do my best to make sure that every one of them can be all that they can be.
That's my dream.
Rep. Alan Grayson
"You may say I'm a dreamer,
But I'm not the only one."
John Lennon, "Imagine" (1971)