Because our mission at TNH is to encourage every person to Rise Higher and Shine Brighter, we love to feature both amazing women being rock-stars in their life, AND men who are pillars of their communities, homes, and themselves. This Amazing Man, Roger Wolfson is truly an extraordinary human being. He has it all—intelligence, drive, talent, compassion, openness, vigor and heart. We are excited to share a few thoughts from this passionate, successful writer, former lawyer and speechwriter for John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, and genuine animal rights advocate—not to mention he’s the Commissioner for Animal Services for the City of Los Angeles. So if anyone knows what it’s like to have a full plate—he does. Read on and get inspired!
1. Please tell us who you are and what you do?
Roger Wolfson. I’m a TV writer who has written for five TV series (including Law and Order: SVU, Saving Grace, Fairly Legal, and the Closer). I’m also a civil rights attorney with a background in politics. I’ve served as counsel to four US Senators (Lieberman, Kerry, Wellstone, and Kennedy) and as speechwriter to several members of Congress, Senators, Governors, and Presidential Candidates. I currently serve part-time as the Commissioner for Animal Services for the City of Los Angeles.
2. What other amazing men would you nominate? Why?
I’m a particular fan of Tom Schulman, the screenwriter who wrote Dead Poets Society, among other great films. He’s a truly conscious person with an amazing heart.
3. Who was/is the most profound male influence in your life and why?
Obviously my father is a key player in my development. He’s a cardiologist and a professor at Yale, who has placed a high premium on civic duty his entire life. When he was young, he was the Vice President of the NAACP for his college – and in that role he brought a real radical to speak at Columbia. Eleanor Roosevelt.
Also on that list, even though I was raised Jewish, I’ve always admired the teachings of Jesus, Siddhartha, and Mohammed (who founded Islam as a the religion of the underclass and as a means of providing rights to women – believe it or not. The religion in many countries has pulled away from it’s founding principles. Such has been true of Christianity as well).
I’d have to include my former bosses Ted Kennedy and Paul Wellstone on this list. Wellstone in particular was one of the most humble leaders I’ve ever known, and even though he died tragically, his life continues to inspire me to this day.
5. What is your personal motto/mantra?
That’s a fantastic question. I’ve never been asked it before. I don’t think I have a specific saying, although Annie Dillard’s “How we spend our days is, of course, how we live our lives” comes to mind. I think the most common refrain of my life is the concept of daily growth and a daily deepening of compassion, love, and joy.
6. What advice would you give to young men and women?
Well: A) Go Vegan. It’s the best way you can save the world every day, along with your own soul and the lives of those you are here to protect. B) Follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell said. C) Find ways to expand your heart every day – practice relentless forgiveness of yourself and others. And D) If all else fails, the Golden Rule is a great start. Including the reverse: sometimes, when you can’t be kind to yourself, ask yourself – how would I treat someone else who I love. Then, do that for yourself.
7. What causes are you passionate about and why?
Veganism. Education. Compassion. Worldliness. Fighting against judgments. Embracing everyone as individuals instead of as stereotypes. Community engagement and kindness to all those you meet. I’m involved in all of these causes for a very simple reason: without them, we don’t stand a chance as a species.
8. How do you contribute to your community and why?
First and foremost, with my day job. I strive to write scripts and support projects that promote a value system that I think is healthy for all who encounter it. I strive to raise the bar creatively with everything I do. Secondly, I take on responsibilities in my community, like animal rights. Third, I built an Amphitheater in my backyard so that I can bring my neighbors and my community together to learn new things. I constantly put together events that I think will challenge and inspire those around me. Fourth – I engage actively in exercise, healthy eating, therapy, and spirituality so that I can be a healthy person and a healthy contribution to everything I do. Fifth and finally – I strive to have a positive influence on my family, so that those I spend the most time with can also be of service to the greater good. I think that endeavoring to be a loving spouse and someday – father – is one of the highest forms of contribution.
9. What is your definition of being man versus being a boy?
A boy’s job is to focus on his own personal universe, and discover his place in it. A man’s job is to make the world better for everyone.
10. Any additional ideas, stories, or points of view that you feel will enhance readers on understanding who you are and what your purpose is please elaborate?!
Honestly, I think we’re at a key moment in human history, when we all have to take the time to look at the direction we are headed in, and find aggressive ways of taking action. I don’t see how to be a conscious person and not look for ways to contribute. I take every public opportunity to encourage people to examine their daily choices – what do I purchase, what do I eat, and how will those choices affect my well-being and the well-being of this planet? What kind of a consumer am I of culture – what do I watch on TV, what movies and plays do I see, what do I read, and how will those investments of time and money affect me, those I love, and my community? How do I handle stress and challenges, and what does that teach me about how I can be a gentler and stronger person? What can I learn from my failures about how to be compassionate? How can I do better next time?