Lobby Day and Why Our Voices Matter
There have been many great posts written about the content of the Bread National Gathering and 35th Anniversary Celebration in the last week, so, rather than adding my small voice to the multitude, I would like to speak more about Lobby Day itself and in particular my experiences.
Going in to Lobby Day I had already visited two congressional offices here in California, though they prepared me for the experience it is still a rather intimidating thought to be entering the office of a person who speaks for approximately 20 million people (for each of the two Senators) or approximately 700,000 (in the case of the Congressman). For the Senate meetings I was joined by a contingent of Californians, all of whom were full of purpose and well prepared for the task at hand. In fact the presentation given was so good, and the aides seemingly so receptive, that I must admit I was rather disappointed. My task in the meetings was to handle push back, so I was prepared, with arguments ready, to counter any doubts that the aides might express. Therefore, when both Senate offices offered little push back, but rather agreed wholeheartedly with our goals, I was left without a job! A bittersweet moment for a cocky college kid to be sure, but a fantastic situation for Bread for the World.
The meeting that I had with the aide for Congressman David Dreier was also an excellent one, for she was also extremely receptive and supportive of the goals that we were there to promote. In fact, the meeting almost felt like a living-room chat (though the living room was a rather large and ornate office).
As I left that last meeting, I was struck with an interesting thought: it is so easy to forget that the people in Washington are people like us. We try to either deify or demonize them, all the while forgetting that they are, in reality, just people trying to do what they believe to be the best thing for America and the people they represent. This is important to realize, especially when advocating for a cause like ours at Bread for the World, because it allows us to see the similarities between us all. That they are touched by the suffering of the hungry as we are, they want to see the poor of the world rise up to improve their lives, and they desire to see the world become a better place. Many times it is not a lack of good-will which creates inaction, but rather an uncertainty of the direction towards which to take action. It is our job, the job of the constituents to give them the will and the incentive to create policies which will change the world.
Kaj Pedersen is a student at Claremont McKenna College. He is serving as a summer intern with Bread for the World's California Regional Office.
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