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An open letter to our legislators

Dear members of the U.S. Congress:

Would it be an imposition on all of you to ask that you read this letter I have written? I’m not calling out names or parties or affiliations or gender. I’m not mad at anyone, although my blood boils when I hear about mistreatment happening to those who are sick, poor or mentally ill. It reflects on the society I am so much a part of. It demeans me, and you, when suffering occurs as a choice made by one person (or group) onto another who is weaker or vulnerable.

However, that’s not why I’m writing to you. Rather, it is important to me that I try, with all my heart, to express what I feel about this country, my place in it and your place in it. The ancestors I hold dear, who worked and fought and died so I could have a place here, are in my thoughts. They didn’t know me, but they are fabricated in my blood and are part of me.

I hear myself being referred to as a generic “American person,” as though you, who refer to me that way, are one thing and I am another. As though you know me, and you know what I want and need. If I were you, I would stop that. 

 

If you use the term “American people,” please include yourself in that catch phrase. Your exalted sphere doesn’t change the fact that you and I are basically little beings roaming the earth, trying to find stability in a huge storm, trying to raise and protect our children so they will be happy and independent, curious, honest and courageous, doing all the things we have to do to survive and live our birthright of happiness, life and liberty. 

You thrive in a climate of debate and rules of order and have to struggle to raise enough money to keep your jobs. So, surely you have to make concessions to someone who has the money or power to keep you in your position. 

I’m sure some of you really believe in the American Way of Life to such an extent that you think by being a member of Congress you can change that American Life as you think it should be. I assume the jobs you are doing mean something to you. 

 

Yet, to me, you are often doing your jobs in ways that don’t include conviction, courage or honesty. My sense is that as long as you get hired over and over to do your job in Congress, the better you feel about yourselves, and the less you have feelings about why you’re there in the first place.

I’m beginning my seventh decade on Earth. For the most part, I am that happy, independent, curious, brave and honest person I tried to raise my child to be. All I’m asking you to do, dear Congress, is to realize that my life and yours are entwined more closely than you realize. What happens to me out here, in this turmoil and uncertainty, is also happening to you. 

Your decisions erode away the basics of who I am, leaving me scared and uncertain and painfully aware of how vulnerable I am. 

You, too, are holding fast to an uncertain future; you, too, are vulnerable to the capriciousness of the human condition. So I am asking you to tread carefully, to realize how deeply your decisions will affect me, and all of us, and to think about who you are when you make that final call.

 

Jane Bean lives in Cornwall, Conn. She has her own business, The Serene Bean, which provides home service and catering.