“Man of La Mancha” is my all-time favorite musical. When I served on the Maine State Music Theater board a few years back, we staged some terrific productions. In 2009, “Les Miserables” killed ’em — as “Les Miz” often does.

But I’ve always been in awe of the stage version Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th century masterpiece, “Don Quixote,” the man who dares “To Dream the Impossible Dream.” The lyrics address fighting the unbeatable foe, running where the brave dare not go, trying when your arms are too weary, and marching into hell for a heavenly cause. And that, in the end, “the world will be better for this.”

Still, Quixote is portrayed as a madman. Indeed, his story unfolds in a prison cell during the Inquisition prior to being led away to face his fate.

All my life, I’ve been attracted to those madmen and madwomen who have the courage to stand up and do the right thing, or simply a different thing. An unproven, or unpopular thing.

Consider Sens. Roger Katz, of Augusta, and Tom Saviello, of Wilton, who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder in support of health care expansion in the face of much adversity. Today, they’re supported by a majority of the Legislature. Young Rep. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, stood very tall to deliver an impassioned speech in support of the measure, and of all Mainers. Keep your eye on this guy.

I’m not suggesting that Maine is in the midst of anything approaching the Inquisition, but the frustration and discomfort stemming from the discourse in recent years has been painful. And unacceptable, moving forward.

Clearly, when legislators resolve to employ intelligence, apply compassion and commit to a spirit of compromise and good will, we have every reason to believe that, in the end, Maine will be better for this.

Buddy DoyleGardiner