At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I have a suggestion for the members of the U. S. Congress. It is simple, it is doable, and I am dead serious about it. Both chambers should set aside a few days for the members to talk about nothing but their children and grandchildren. Enough time should be allotted for each legislator to take the podium and do nothing more than share with their colleagues their most personal and cherished stories about their families. The only restriction would be that no discussion of politics or policy would be allowed.
As a pastor with forty-five years of experience, I can predict what will be heard. There will be humorous stories, there will be touching stories, and there will be terribly sad stories. There will be memories of births and vacations and soccer games; there will be tearful recollections about the child lost to drugs, or the grandchild who struggles with autism. There will be moments of filial pride, and there will be voices quaking with emotion. There will be laughter and there will be tears as these wonderfully human leaders take just a few days to talk about those whom they most cherish in life. There will be renewed empathy for the colleague one barely knows, and there will be a new understanding about what it means to share a common humanity. I promise that no one will leave the halls of government unchanged.
Speaking directly to our elected officials, let me say to you there are a lot of reasons to do this. Because we, too, are divided, we need you more than ever to provide powerful examples for us. There is no better way to do that than to talk about your children, to share your hopes and dreams for them, to lay bare your own vulnerabilities and fears about their future. Doing so might lead you to discover a common vision, some shared commitments, and perhaps the courage to work together once again. Frankly, it might make you better legislators and leaders. It might help the rest of us see that Washington is not a swamp full of monsters, but a real place with real people trying to do the right thing. It might help create the comity that people yearn for both inside and outside the beltway. It will make you better and more empathetic human beings.
I know this idea sounds scary, perhaps absurd. But maybe the time has come to rediscover why what you do is important to all of us, and to our shared future. Show us your humanity, your compassion, and your commitment to make the world a better place. Do it for your children and for our children, for the ones we love the most.
Rev. Don Underwood