Before I start into this blog, it’s very important for me to name a truth that has been weighing heavily on my heart. This is my first blog post since the tragedy that happened at Pulse in Orlando. My heart has been and continues to go out to all of the victims and their families and friends, but also the gunman and everyone who was close to him. As people of faith, I believe it is very important for us to continue to hold all of these people in the light. As time goes by, as news becomes olds, we must remember that the reality for all of these people as they once knew it has forever changed and the least that we can do is to remember and respect their loss.
This blog post is dedicated to a day that I recently spent lobbying on Capitol Hill. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Andy, neither lobbying nor Capitol Hill sound like things that you would want to incorporate into your YAV year.” Let me tell you, you’re not wrong! However the group that I lobbied with was Bread for the World, an amazing nonpartisan non-profit that does a lot of great work and since I’ve spent the last 10-ish months in our Nations Capitol, it seemed like an important thing to do. Now Bread for the World, or Bread, is a group that we send a lot of our Pilgrimage groups to so that they can learn about activism through a Christian point of view and so they can see this city from the point of view of politicians in contrast to the view of the homeless which is how they usually see it for their time here. I believe in Bread’s work and it was also their big 2016 Lobby Day where hundreds of people came to town from all around the country so that they can tell their elected officials (or more often than not their elected official’s aides) that their constituents care about putting an end to hunger by providing food to the many places in our country that are desperately in need of it.
That day we all did some great work and Bread is an amazing organization. I encourage you to check out their website here.
So what I wanted to focus on for this blog is the disconnection between what goes on on Capitol Hill, which I call Washington, and everything and everyone else going on in what I call The District.
There’s two ways I can describe this, one way involves videos and the other involves my ranting so if you feel like taking the easy way out I’ll give you that first.
Here we have John Oliver amazingly and eloquently explaining the struggle that is DC.
Here we have a song that I feel represents Washington. Skip ahead to 2:24
And here’s a song that I feel represents The District. Even though this one’s about a different metropolitan area on the East Coast I still feel like it encompasses all the character and characters of the District.
Here’s my ranting:
There is something I’ve sort of known since I’ve been living here but it didn’t click until I spent a day on the Hill. Among all the suits and egos and speeches and medal detectors, in the 12 hours that I spent in Washington, I felt SO far away from the District as I’ve come to know and love it. After the lobbying for the day was over there was a reception in one of the Senate buildings in this larger than life grandiose meeting hall with free food and drinks which I have to admit were superb. But as I was noshing and chatting with my fellow intern at Pilgrims/Pilgrimage, she pointed out one of the windows and said that it doesn’t look real, that it looked like a painting. Below is a picture of this window and a chandelier from the room (don’t mind the Snapchat filter). It was shortly after that conversation that I got a notification on my phone from one of the local news stations that a man had jumped off the Connecticut Avenue Bridge and had sustained non-life threatening injuries. I know this bridge well, I could picture Rock Creek Park beneath it. But in that moment it felt like that happened millions of miles away even though it was less than 4 miles away from the building I was in.
What I’m trying to say is that I believe in our democratic system but I also believe that we need to bring the People’s voice back into Capitol. All of these people in the system wouldn’t be where they are if not for their constituents and I feel like that gets forgotten in the struggle to build a reputation and get re-elected. Even in my experience lobbying that day, the better majority of the aides that I spoke to were treating me like I was wasting their time. To represent is to speak or act on behalf of someone and both unfortunately and slightly ironically, that gets forgotten within the District that has no representation in Washington.
I hope this makes sense and if it doesn’t ask em to expand on something and I happily will. Thanks again to all who read this regularly and support me in this year, you are all truly appreciated! And just a reminder, I’m planning to be a YAV one more time starting in September in Asheville, NC! As a Young Adult Volunteer serving nationally, I am required to fundraise at least $3,000 that will go towards my travel, quarterly retreats with my community, my monthly stipend and other incidentals.
If you feel so moved to donate towards my year in Asheville I would greatly appreciate it! Just click on the link below, then click on the “Support Andrew” button, then click on the “Give” button on the right-hand side of the page and the rest is fairly straight forward but feel free to ask me if you have any questions. If you are unable to support me financially at this time, your prayers and all other forms of support are also appreciated! Thanks so much again and God Bless! Andy