Hope Visits the United States Congress
Welcome Back to the Land of Hope
If you glance to the right you will find the first two essays about a child name Hope. This all started at the end of my first novel, The 12/59 Shuttle from Yesterday to Today. The main character and his wife had a child, and that child had a child name Hope.
“And the child was born, and as she grew it became apparent that this was a special child. Her golden hair reflected sunlight on sunny days, and during the gloom of winter she seemed to absorb the darkness, so that those in her proximity felt warmth where there was cold.
By the time she was eight she was sought by millions, all longing to be near her, to touch her, to bask in her peacefulness, and to hear her words. Every week, every Saturday, in a field of lavender, she met with those who had come from distant shores, and she answered their questions with patience, and with love.”
And so, the story continues. Today let’s listen in as the child named Hope visits the Halls of Congress in Washington D.C.
- A Child Named Hope: A Moment with Bill Reflection
Sit down, get comfortable, and allow me to tell you about a very special little girl
- Hope Stands Among the Poor of Spirit
The second chapter in the Story of Hope
The Gavel Sounds
The Speaker of the House brings the current joint session of Congress to order with a bang of his gavel. Slowly the talking comes to an end, and all eyes turn to the front of the room, where a little child sits at a table with a microphone in front of her. Flanked by her parents, the child appears to be calm and not nervous at all. In fact, there is a peacefulness about this child, an almost physical presence that is felt by those nearby. She turns her attention to the Speaker of the House, nods to him and smiles.
“Congressmen, Senators, and distinguished guests, today I’d like you all to join with me in welcoming Hope to Congress. I’m sure you are all familiar with Hope, and the message she has delivered across this nation in the past few months. We have invited Hope here today so that she might answer your questions, and so that she might further explain her message, a message I believe is vitally important for us as we prepare to pass important legislation this session.
“Please, join me in a round of applause for Hope.”
A thunderous roar filled the chamber as the powerful men and women of Congress rose to their feet and applauded the small, unassuming child. She seemed embarrassed by it all, and she received reassuring hugs from both parents. Finally, she raised a hand to quiet the crowd, then leaned toward the microphone and spoke.
“Thank you one and all for your warm welcome, a welcome that humbles and honors me, but I must tell you I am a bit confused by it all. Your enthusiasm in welcoming me signifies that you are grateful I am here, and yet I have always been with you. I have been treated like a rare treasure since arriving in Washington D.C., and yet, to millions around the world, I am as common as the rising and setting of the sun. Am I to assume, from your welcome, that you did not think I existed? Am I to assume, from your welcome, that perhaps you had forgotten my message?
“I have much to say today, but rather than speaking from a prepared speech, I would prefer to answer your questions, for then I will receive some insight into your hearts. Please, anyone, let’s have a question.”
The distinguished junior senator from Louisiana raised his hand.
“Hope, I hail from the great state of Louisiana, and I would like to ask about commerce versus the environment. In my state, and in many others, there is increased pressure on lawmakers to generate jobs, and among the industries interested in Louisiana is the oil industry. They provide thousands of jobs to my state, but they also threaten the natural balance in nature with their pollution. How can we pass legislation that will keep both sides of the argument happy? How can we provide jobs AND protect the environment?
Hope stood up from the table and faced the senator, then walked down the aisle and stopped before him.
“You say these things, sir, like there are only two options. We are never limited in our options, as you would seem to suggest. It seems to me that your vision is short-sighted. You curry the favors of the oil industry so that instant gratification, and votes, will be gained, not giving a thought to the long-range ramifications of your actions. Tell me, sir, how much graft you received from the oil industry last year?”
A collective gasp could be heard across the great chamber, and then silence as all awaited the senator’s answer. None was given.
“From your silence much is said, senator. I represent all citizens of this country, senator. In spirit I am with those who barely have enough to eat. In spirit I am with those who are homeless, and those who cannot possibly survive on minimum wage. I am with everyone who has lost their home, who dresses their children in rags, and who are forced to drink polluted water. Do not speak to me about either or, but rather speak to me about solutions.
“I happen to know, senator, that when you were a child, your father worked three part-time jobs to provide for your family, while your mother raised you and your three siblings while doing sewing for supplemental income. How do I know that? Because hope for a better life was with your mother and father then, just as it is, now, with millions in your state. You would do well, sir, to remember your roots and look to your background for the answers you seek.”
A hand immediately rose from Hope’s right, and a robust voice spoke loudly and with considerable emotion.
“With all due respect, Hope, I am tired of hearing about the poor working class. My daddy worked his tail off and never took public assistance. He pulled himself up by his bootstraps and never asked for help. If he could do it then, by God, others can do it as well. Why must we always talk about social services and programs that give freely but drain our resources?”
Hope made her way to the congressman from Montana. She looked up at him with tears in her eyes.
“ Because, Congressman, we never leave a fallen comrade behind. Wasn’t that one of your beliefs as a marine in Afghanistan? We never leave a fallen comrade behind. Simple words to say, but not so easy to live when the bullets are flying and you can count your future in minutes rather than years….and yet, ten years ago, you risked injury or death to save a wounded soldier and carry him to safety in a killing zone. We never leave a fallen comrade behind. That is what you believed then. Why is it so hard to believe it now?
“We are currently in a war against poverty, and there are fallen comrades. I am with them daily, but there is only so much I can do. I need your help…they need your help…will you crawl across that killing zone one more time, and help your fallen comrades, or will you shrink from your duty and hide behind the safety of rhetoric?”
And so It Went
For two hours, Hope responded to questions, sometimes patiently, and sometimes with urgency, but always the child treated each questioner with respect. Finally, the time came for her closing statements.
“Listen carefully, all of you. The principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not meaningless drivel. They are promises, and they are the rights of every person in this country. It is your job to ensure that they will never be forgotten, or set on a shelf to gather dust. There is only so much I can do. I can provide warmth for the souls of your constituents during their dark times, but it takes more to provide food and a chance at a decent life.
“Hope is not enough. Action is called for, and that action must be born from compassion and love. If we work in concert we can achieve great things, but if the day comes when Hope is lost, then may God have mercy on us all.
“Legislation that benefits the few will only bankrupt the future. Legislation that benefits us all will be revered by generations to come. The choice is yours, but remember that your power is derived from the people, and it is a power that can be revoked at any time.
“Thank you for this opportunity. I will always be with you should you need me.”
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)