First Person Singular: Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich

(Mike Morgan - For The Washington Post)
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

I decided at a very early age that if I saw something that I didn't agree with, I'd be willing to be the person who would stand up and say something. I suppose I was doing that from the time I was a child.

When I went out for football for the St. John Cantius Jayhawks, it was a very small school, and usually you'd make the varsity just going out for the team because they really didn't have enough for three strings. I went out for the team, and the coach looked at me. I was 4-foot-9 and weighed 97 pounds, and one of the coaches said, "You know, we already have a football." And, of course, having a desire to participate, I was determined to demonstrate that I could play. And so they gave me a chance, and on one of the first plays from the scrimmage, I flattened the biggest person on the team with a cross-body block that I really wasn't aware that I had thrown. That was the moment when I made the team.

If there's a lesson that I've learned in life, it's to look at circumstances that some people would say would be absolutely impossible and to intervene and -- through efforts and heart and sometimes luck -- to change the outcome. And I've been doing that my whole life. That's actually what I know how to do. It's a skill, just like playing golf. You see a set of circumstances, and people will say, "Well, you can't do anything about that. It's too late. It's impossible. Forget it." And just by getting involved and understanding that there's another possibility out there, you call forth that other possibility and activate it, set it in motion.

I think that, for me, I've learned not to put my treasures in the material world because of the way I grew up. I lived in 21 different places by the time I was 17, including a couple cars. I learned never to rely on materiality. And so there's nothing that anyone can ever take away from me that means so much to me in a material sense. What I value are relationships, love -- things that are tangible, for sure, but they're not "stuff."

Interview by Cathy Areu


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