“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born… and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain
For Maryland state Delegate Christian Miele his why surfaced in his late 20’s and he hasn’t looked back since. In fact, he’s driving forward with everything he’s got and everything he’s got to give.
“I think a big challenge was finding myself and discovering and unlocking my potential,” says Christian. “I worked a series of jobs that were not emotionally fulfilling. I was working paycheck to paycheck and not making contributions to the community or the world the way I should be. I felt lost like I wasn’t doing what I was meant to do.”
Christian was caught up in the day-to-day grind of living and living without vision. Though there was a time he thought he could see himself as a rock star.
Christian’s been a Maryland resident for years now, but he was born in the same area as Bruce Springsteen and his dad went to the same high school as Bon Jovi, so music is in Christian’s soul. “My dad is an incredible singer,” says Christian. “He’s the reason I became a musician. He bought a drum set and it was collecting dust in our home until about the time I got into the 7th grade, and I fell in love with rock music. My dad helped me start drumming. Drumming is a great release of energy and stress. In a way, it’s a kind of solitary experience. You practice so much, but then you get to play live for people and it takes things to a whole other level. It’s that sense of oneness, everyone enjoying the music together.”
That feeling of oneness would soon become a major theme in Christian’s life.
Christian played music in high school and college and then got to perform as the drummer in a moderately successful rock band, LVT, an acronym for the band’s founders, lead singer Louie Verga, and keyboard player, Chris “Tree” Richardson. Christian says LVT performed to sold-out concerts in venues like Recher Theater and Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore. They eventually cut an album, Two Weeks from Now, a reference to an inside joke in the band. “It took years to make the record,” says Christian. “Our fans kept asking, ‘when is the album coming out?’” “Our standard answer was always, two weeks from now.”
But even getting to live part of his passion, Christian still knew the music of his heart yearned for something more, though he wasn’t sure exactly what that something might be.
“My belief is everyone has a purpose in life and part of life is tapping into your passion because when you are passionate about it, it doesn’t feel like work,” says Christian. Having graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science Degree and Master of Arts Degree, a mentor believed Christian should return to the university working with undergraduate student leaders on campus. So he did and held that job for four years while playing in the band. Christian was busy, but not with a sense of direction, he was still looking to feel fulfilled.
Christian knew he had every opportunity in the world – after all, he didn’t come from an impoverished childhood. He grew up with a solid foundation, and it was almost as if he wanted to make sure he lived up to the promise he knew others saw in him. “I had the right type of people around me growing up,” says Christian. “Those people – my parents and my friends – instilled values in me and taught me to see the world in a non-judgemental way.” It’s one of the reasons Christian was able to become a leader in his college fraternity, Sigma Pi, taking his chapter all the way to number one in the nation. The fraternity focuses on academic excellence, philanthropic service, charitable works, and leadership development. Christian says he made sure the members of his chapter did well scholastically, and focused on giving back, including campus service projects. It was a great experience and a great example of focused leadership.
Christian says what truly helped him to find his purpose was the lessons he learned from his grandfather, the man Christian calls his hero. “My late grandfather really inspired me,” he says. “He was a member of the greatest generation, fought in Europe in World War II, worked as a school teacher, an accountant, and ran for public office, twice. He had a degree from Rutgers and he always told me, ‘you should become a lawyer or a doctor.’”
In 2011, Christian went off to law school at Emory University. It was his grandfather’s advice, coupled with Christian’s new understanding of the power of the law, when everything seemed to click. “It was while I was in law school I was inspired to run for office,” he says. “You see gaps in the law and want to make things better. You can use the law to affect change. After I graduated law school there was an open seat in my district. My friends said, ‘you’re crazy to do this.’” “But I knew with my love of the law, of leadership, of people, that this is what I had to do.”
Christian continues: “That first run for office was an incredibly memorable experience for me, almost poetic in a way. I was finally finding myself and out on this incredible journey, as a first-time candidate with few volunteers and no one donating to the campaign, except for family and friends, as I started knocking on doors. We rolled up our sleeves and literally knocked on about 10,000 doors taking our mission and our cause right to the voters doorsteps. We were knocking on doors all summer and fall, sometimes in extreme heat and stormy weather. There are times you ask yourself, is it all worth it? Is it all paying off? It’s a physical and emotional journey, we did it all for the better part of six months. We’d be out there with umbrellas, rain or shine, going to every community meeting. We did our best to raise a couple of bucks to buy yard signs and some campaign literature. It was all kind of surreal.”
The hard work paid off. In 2014 Christian won the election to become a state delegate, representing Legislative District 8 in Baltimore County. And he wasted no time getting to work, passing several instrumental bills, including Janet’s Law, which empowers Marylanders to make more informed decisions when choosing their doctors by requiring physicians practicing without medical malpractice insurance to disclose their lack of coverage to prospective patients; the Hire Our Veterans Act, a jobs bill to help unemployed military veterans re-enter the workforce; and the Animal Shelter Standards Act, a measure that improves animal welfare in Maryland by creating standards of care for animals being sheltered in publicly funded facilities.
But now Christian believes it’s time to take it to the next level, and truly live his purpose.
Christian is running to become Baltimore County’s next State Senator. “I really did fall in love with Baltimore County when I moved here as a teenager,” says Christian. “I have gotten to know the area really well, going to school at Towson University and now living in Perry Hall. Baltimore County has a certain sense of community you don’t find anywhere else, it really is “smalltimore” and once you put down roots here it is easy to stay.”
He is also working alongside Jason Plotkin, as a practicing attorney with Pinder Plotkin LLC, a general practice law firm in Parkville which has served Baltimore County and the community for many years.
Christian’s love of Baltimore County runs even deeper because he was fortunate to meet the love of his life here. Christian met his wife Jessica in 2010, the couple married in 2014 and one year ago, they welcomed their son Theo into the world. Christian says becoming a father is his life’s greatest accomplishment and it has changed his and Jessica’s life forever. And now, with his family as his foundation, Christian says there is so much more he wants to do.
“My life really became exciting in the last four years,” says Christian. “We only get to do life once and I think all the time about how can I can make it meaningful. My passion is people. I love people. I love Democrats, Republicans and everyone in between. I don’t see the world as blue versus red. There shouldn’t be a tribalistic landscape. Sadly our political commentary is so ratings driven that it’s literally driving a stake into our hearts and dividing people. It’s why I like Governor Hogan, because he is a unifying figure.
“We are at a critical point in our world and we need younger representatives to step up and take our political discourse in a totally different direction. The incivility and the vitriol are unsustainable. I know I’m only one politician, and most people don’t like them. They make promises and take them back. I can’t control others. But what I’m always thinking is, how can I have the breakthrough to change the whole culture? I want to continue to gain support because mostly what I’m after is changing politics in a big way, by the way I conduct myself, how I respond to criticism.”
Christian wants to live by his words. He says recently someone said some particularly mean and hateful things toward him, simply because of his relationship with Governor Hogan. Christian says he got the man’s information and mailed him a hand-written letter. “I told the man, I hear your concerns and there are a few things I’m trying to do to change all of this… and then I listed them for him. I said here’s my number and let’s stay in touch. I figured maybe he might listen to what I have to say because I listened to him. I’m always going to do that, meaning I’m always going to validate you and then explain what I’m really all about. It’s just one microcosm of my overall vision. I want to restore trust and civility.”
Christian says his vision is really like that of the post 9/11 days: “After 9/11, after the initial sadness and grief, remember a day or two later how all the division in the country just ceased to exist? Everybody was an American. Everybody was there for each other. Everyone realized at that moment just how fragile life really is. We had that glimpse of oneness, of how important it is to be good to one another. If in those days we could feel the oneness of our humanity, why can’t we do that every day? I’m not seeing enough people talking along the lines of what I’m thinking about out there in the public arena.”
For Christian it’s about getting better all the time, truly becoming the best version of himself. “I go to bed every night listening to some Ted Talk or some motivational speaker because I want to keep getting better as a person. I know we all can. It really is all about oneness. Being in politics is my way to change the world… it’s what I want to do, at least for now. Let’s bring people together again. Like that quote from the end of the movie, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, “be excellent to each other.”
That’s oneness, defined.
Written by Mark Brodinsky. Brodinsky is a master storyteller, blogger, author and motivational speaker, specializing in telling personal stories of courage, hope and inspiration. You can learn more about Mark at his website, www.markbrodinsky.life.
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