(Washington, DC) All this typing about politics, ideas, policy, the American people–2,077 posts on this site, plus articles, emails, graphs–and what I really care about, of course, is me: my own passage through time. For instance, how long ago did we visit Lancaster County with two children, one young enough to have her nursery school’s stuffed bear with her for the weekend, and the winter came suddenly as we drove homeward, and the radio told us we were at war in Afghanistan?

On my last visit to DC, on a clammy night, unpremeditated, I walked down our dark old block, feeling that I was walking into the past. You only know a street intimately if you have explored it with small children. The tree roots of Cortland Place, for example: we fed the tiny ants who swarmed there by dripping apple juice from a sippy cup. I know shortcuts for trikes, slopes for rolling. Amid the murk, I half expected to find us hunting fireflies.

Consolation: only by moving forward can we make room for the new ones whose entry into the world is the basis of freedom.

Consolation: I am wisp, but we are something significant, and that is why politics, ideas, policy, and the people matter after all.

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.