An open letter to the 115th American Congress
May 4, 2017
Dear Honorable Sirs and Madams of Congress-
I write you today with hope and admiration, with an imagination full of light inspired by a tomorrow of possibility hindered by a heavy heart. My today has been weighed down. My possibilities altered. My prospects perverted by an ugly truth, an inconvenient reality, a terrifying realization — you don’t know me.
So allow me to introduce myself. I am the America you represent. I am not all of her but I am her — incarnate, animated, alive, breathing, real, emotional, unsure, and clambering for a better tomorrow, a more actualized, engaged, caring, independent, connected, and compassionate future. I am the America of diversity, the crucible of identities, the conundrum of politics, the clash of ideologies. I am real. I am living. I am timid, I am bold. I am hopeful. I am afraid. I am ashamed. I am here, and I am listening and watching.
You are only 535 people, yet you hold immense power to influence and alter the lives of the nearly 350 million of us living in the United States and the 7.6 billion people living on the face of this, our only earth. The choices you make are deeply personal for each of your constituents. The decisions you make impact the dying, the unborn, ungodly wealthy, the impossibly poor, Americans, and foreign born. Your legacy has the potential to uplift and inspire generations to come. I did not vote for most of you, but you are the ones — the ones we have, the ones who will guide this vessel we call life, this ship called America, this journey toward posterity, the very pursuit of happiness. You are the ones.
You are only 535 people, yet you stir up the emotions of an entire civilization, you inspire the actions of all our modern society. Your words and your deeds become the actions and playground imaginations of the children whose futures you shadow with your vote in the halls of our government. With the stroke of your pen you paint our joy and our pain, our heartache and our rejoicing, the realities of our everyday lay at your feet. Like it or not, you are the ones we have all elected — you are the ones who can change the very spoils you complain of, you are the ones with the power to address the division and derision, the impossibility and incongruence, the deaf and dumb delinquency that graffitis the halls of justice, equality, and temperance. You can change it for the better.
You are not elected Republican or Democrat. You are not elected conservative or liberal. You are not elected Christian or Agnostic. You are elected to American. You are elected to serve. You serve no party. You serve no etherial master, no corporate force, no undefined God, no other but we the people. Your actions, your words, your example, your motives, your very being must be — by definition — representative of ALL WHOM YOU SERVE, the people of your constituency, the men and women, trans and queer, brown and white, blond and brunette, Jew and Gentile, Red and Blue — YOU SERVE US ALL!
YOU SERVE AMERICA. You serve America — the beautiful, the fragile, the gentle, the imperfect nation that we are. You serve her at her greatest and her weakest. You serve the purple mountains majesty and from sea to shinning sea. You serve the islands of our voiceless territories, the towering cities and megalopolis, the farmstead and main street. You are the ones we’ve been waiting for, like petulant children unaware that that which we crave most is order and wisdom, kindness and compassion, balance and security, goodness and fairness. We yearn for our energies to directed toward hope and benevolence, unity and connection. You are the ones we’ve been waiting for to act with a sense of purpose beyond your own self interest. You are the ones we’ve been waiting for to revive the era of statesmen who built this present you are so casually taking for granted and willfully dismantling. You are the ones we’ve been waiting for to act with calculated consciousness toward a brighter future for every single soul you represent.
You do recall that you represent all of us — you represent the conservative rancher, the liberal social worker, the HIV+ man, the senior whose mind is riddled with dementia, the self-employed husband defending his wife from the invisible forces of cancer, the rape victim fighting for her dignity, the immigrant mother hoping for safety in this land of free, the soldier returned from war who has lost that feeling in this home of the brave, the black man just walking his daughter to school, the queer couple just seeking a wedding cake, that Christian boy afraid to come out, that Muslim family fleeing the bombs of war, those parents still grieving their kindergartner lost to a madman’s bullet. your daughter trying to understand why she can’t make decisions about her own body. You do recall that some of these people voted for you. You do recall that they live in your cities and your states, that they too, call America their home, that even though they may not have a passport and even though they cannot claim this nation as their motherland they call it home, they pay their taxes too, they believe in that American dream, and they long for a better tomorrow for the generations to come. You do recall that WE THE PEOPLE are the ones you represent, all of us.
Our lives are not identical and our values are not all the same but we do all hold these TRUTHS to be self evident that all men AND WOMEN are created EQUAL, no matter how hard you insist on disproving that statement. And we are ALL endowed with UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, that you cannot vote away or remove or disappear or vanish with your irresponsibility and divisiveness. Simply because you will those rights to be denied us, you cannot alter the will of the people. And among these rights are Life — the joy that is living and thriving, and striving, and creating, and being; Liberty — the freedom to govern our individual self, our actions, our thoughts, our bodies, our todays and tomorrows, who we love, who we worship, and how we die; and the pursuit of Happiness —we believe that happiness should not be denied any human within our borders, happiness is a journey with infinite paths and no travel plan is identical but the endorphins that happiness releases still illuminate the soul of every human being in this world the exact same way. The RIGHT to the pursuit of happiness was written into our nation’s destiny that we might stand as light upon a hill to show the world what that journey can be when we all come together in an egalitarian democracy.
And you Dear Honorable Members of Congress, are the ones we’ve been waiting for. You represent all of us and our collective future. No matter how much you believe it, no matter how much your corporate sponsors believe it, no matter how much your actions prove otherwise, you represent every word of these truths. You represent every white, yellow, red, black, and brown face in this nation. You represent the red states, the blue ones, the purple and the green, and everything in between. You hold across your shoulders and in your hands the very fate of all those you represent. Your mantle is mighty, but be humble and know that we the people can take it all away.
Dear Honorable Sirs and Madams of Congress, I write you to beg you to reflect upon, to ponder, to weigh out the choices you make. I beg you to act with civility. I beg you to find balance in every vote. I implore you to appeal to the greater calling of your representation of the American People that your actions might be noble. Remember who and what you represent. Remember that your boldness is not defined by cooing to the masses, you were not elected to parrot the voice of derision, you were elected to act with responsibility, justice, equity, and honor. You were elected that you might look into the face of every man, woman, non-binary person, and child that you represent and tell us that what you did, that what you said, that what you believe, that how you act, and how you vote will honor our rights, respect our life, bring each of us greater liberty, and help all of us in the pursuit of their own personal definition of happiness. If you can’t do that after every vote with a clear conscience then you’ve forgotten your duty.
Dear Honorable Sirs and Madams of Congress you can be the ones we’ve been waiting for or you be the reason that, when this long train of abuses and usurpations is passed, that we find new guards for our future.
Dear Honorable Sirs and Madams of Congress the choice is yours. Act wisely.