I am proud to admit that Leslie Knope, the character from the genius television show Parks and Recreation, is my hero. And not just because she's played by Amy Poehler, who is funnier than I could ever hope to be. No, as an aspiring government employee (Maybe? It's only my senior year of college. Does that mean I have to know what I want to do with my life?), I find Leslie inspiring. She brings genuine energy, excitement, and passion to her job at Pawnee's Parks and Recreation Department, and to her work as a City Councilwoman. She cares about her constituents, loves her city, and works as hard as she can to make everyone happy. Leslie is not only the kind of public servant we need, but the kind of person we need. Here are just a few of the many lessons Leslie has to teach us.
1. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
At one point, Leslie asks Ron Swanson why anyone ever eats anything other than breakfast food. Good question, Leslie. Good question. You've earned a waffle:
2. Not all government bureaucrats are soulless.
At one point, Leslie states, “These people are members of the community that care about where they live. So what I hear when I'm being yelled at is people caring ... loudly at me.” She, too cares about Pawnee, and wants to address people's concerns, interpreting their protestations as evidence of a similar love for Pawnee. This displays the level of respect she has for her constituents, something that I think is lacking in politics today.
3. Dancing can solve anything.
Dance when you're happy. And when you're angry and flirtatious.
And, you know, just because.
4. Perms are bad.
5. Government officials can be rock stars, too.
Leslie's desk is adorned with pictures of strong female leaders, like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Madeleine Albright (both fierce secretaries of state), and her dream guy is Joe Biden. Government can be sexy!
6. We should openly embrace our love of junk food.
Don't be ashamed of your craving for mac-and-cheese pizza! Join Leslie in her witch hunt against salads, and love yourself.
And don't forget:
7. Take pride in what you do.
Even a podunk Parks and Recreation Department can be glamorous if the people working there are excited by what they're doing.
8. You create your future — neither your circumstances nor your mistakes define you.
You can still do great things, even if you're from Eagleton.
9. Make the best of every situation.
Even if the only thing keeping an elderly man in cardiac arrest alive is the fact that he groped you as he passed out.
10. If you're passionate about something, do whatever it takes to make it happen. You'll be happier than if you did nothing.
Even if it means adopting 32 cats and dogs because town government isn't moving as fast as you are to find them homes
Leslie Knope's entire life exemplifies this credo, from her career in the Parks Department, to her run for Pawnee City Council, to her marriage to Ben Wyatt. When Leslie loves something, she fights and sacrifices for it. This usually involves hijinks, and crossed wires, and Tom Haverford and Jean-Ralphio devising a ridiculous business venture, but the point remains: we should all fight harder for what we love, and spend less time ripping apart what we hate.
Cheers to Leslie. Knope 2016.