My office lies in an alcove off the long marble hallway that leads from the underground wings into the depths of the Capitol. Two freshmen Republican Senators share this suite with four of us Democrats. Across the bright stone passage, Republican offices circle another suite, and, down the steps behind the committee rooms, a long dark hall lit by skylights hides the offices of the Republican Committee Chairs for nine of the Senate's ten committees.
In the evening, some law makers stay late sorting and answering email, others have given up. The voices flow like bitter sounds that only rarely fall to whisper. The building has riled a sea of discontent. Oddly for all the voices I fear few are listening.
Still, crisis unfolds far away on littered beaches seeming not yet to soften this hard determination of newly elected men to hate the collective expression of America we call government, taxation, regulation and welfare. If compassion is an anthem to some of us, to others it remains a sign of weakness and pitiful need.
It is as if, divided into camps of those who fear and those who hold out a hand in offering, our nation and state have both split themselves into parties, factions, armies of America.
In times of world crisis can we afford these lines we draw? These tendencies to label groups of the unknown into good and evil. Is not the essence of humanity, patriotism, and our constitution that all are created equal and that we exist to express our will with free voices that honor the opinions of the minority whether those voices are ours or those of others, also American, also patriots for expressing an opinion about the nature of their duty in government.
But sacred is the obligation of the majority not to trespass or violate the outnumbered. Serious are the obligations of those who govern to not only hear but to heed those most vulnerable with whom we together constitute our union, our state, our country and nation.
But our nation is none other than an island to which the disparate have come seeking refuge, each of us claiming bits of its land as our home. Yet we should know there's nothing permanent in history but change and the rising and falling of nations, governments, kingdoms, empires and tribes.
If today in our fear of discomfort, our fear of giving up time or troubling with those we don't agree with, if in this fear we fail to rise when others fall, when the strong step hard upon the vulnerable; if too few stand, then all may be lost, not just the perpetuity of our wealth or safety, but eventually the very land and government upon which all order relies.
So, if participation is politics seems inconvenient, think how difficult is the consequence of disengagement. Not always will there be others to stand when we do not. And sadly it is not until it is too late that we will ever know that others did not stand. And then where shall we be but lost in a shaken tide of regret; landless and anchorless without a nation to recognize because, for us, standing up when all might be lost, was more than we were willing to do.
So stand now, in the midst of our state's determination to suffocate its tradition of decency toward those with disabilities, teachers, children and those who may wish never to have to carry a gun. It's not too late to stand now, even though the ground shakes. Single voices make a difference. Single acts of courage and leadership against a tide can turn that tide, bend history toward compassion.
Indeed something must move us to common action in this tiny red corner of our bleeding nation. We are not yet lost as other nations are. Our buildings tower still above our minds. For the sake of those that come after us, we can not let slip the beauty of a better nature, the heart of our uncommon good. We are more than greed, more than soft silent masses.
Where are our voices Americans? What will be left for the generations to come if we don't stand up and speak now?