|Dennis Lehane (photo credit to Paul Marotta)|
Lehane's address was personal, political and aspirational. He talked about growing up in a working class Dorchester neighborhood with a father whose greatest hope was that his son would find a steady job working for a utility. (It wasn't until Lehane's fifth book was published that his dad stopped sending him info about upcoming post office exams.) He shared that his father worked for 35 years for a national company and retired with a pension and health benefits. His dad was bewildered as his former employee chipped away at the benefits he'd worked so long and hard to earn. Lehane's offer to finance a lawsuit against the company was a wake-up call to his father that "the system is rigged in favor of people of means." What about all those retirees who didn't have a rich and famous son to help them?
This story, Lehane said, is a metaphor for climate change, with the deniers starring in the role of the smoker. "It's not my issue," Lehane said. (He has a long history as a counselor for intellectually disabled and abused children.) "But it's so cut and dried. Ask yourself who benefits from denying climate change. Nobody benefits from fighting the deniers. The side without the benefits is fighting from a purer place."
Lehane exhorted the Class of 2017 to fight to make the world a better place. "I'm not the hope. Your professors aren't. I'm Ned Stark. YOU are the hope."
"The world can change," Lehane said, "But not without you. Love who you want. Drink clean water and breathe clean air. Fight for free speech and a free press. Embrace the best of ideals over the worst of your fears. Most of all, get off your asses and vote. YOU can change the world."