Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

“REASON TO BELIEVE”: LIFE
LESSONS—MARIO M. CUOMO
AT THE 92ND STREET Y

Delivered in New York on January 25, 2010.

When Susan Engel suggested that I share with you what I have learned about life and politics that I believe is most relevant, I told her I wasn’t convinced I could add significantly to the already considerable wisdom of a 92nd Street Y audience.

Susan handled that concern by pointing out that she was reserving a block of time for questions and observations from the audi- ence—and they, the audience, would assure we would hear at least some stimulating intelligence before the night was over.

And so I agreed to talk about some of the things I have learned over the years in my own search for truth and efficacy in life. I will try my best to do so as swiftly as I can to save most of our time for discussion with you.

I suspect a lot of what I have to say will sound familiar to some of you.

I offer these thoughts not as a seer, or scholar, or philosopher, or politician, but as an ordinary New Yorker, from South Jamaica in Queens, raised on asphalt streets with brick stoops and stickball games, who was lucky enough to become a lawyer, make a living, marry a wonderful woman, Matilda—who has always been much more than I deserve—help raise a family, and then find my way, somewhat improbably, into the complicated world of politics.

Throughout my youth I was only mildly interested in politics. The things I came to believe in most deeply I learned from the sweaty example of my immigrant parents’ struggle to build a life for themselves and their children; from the nuns at St. Monica’s Church in Jamaica, Queens, the priests at St. John’s University, the great rabbis like Israel Mowshowitz, whom I met during the Second Vatican Council; and from the enlightened vision and profound wisdom of an extraordinary man, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin—a French

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