NCCC Volunteer Program Associate Sandy Irving was arrested at the June 24 Moral Monday.
Thirty-five years ago today, I became a mother—and in these last 35 years, I’ve spent a lot of time with children—as a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, and as a friend and neighbor.
Currently, I’m a Sunday School teacher of young children, and the lesson we try to emphasize with our Sunday School children is to “love your neighbor as you love yourself” …”Do unto others as you’d have them do to you.”
This lesson is good for all of us, and I pray it for our legislators. However, I’m concerned that they are forgetting this Golden Rule.
I’m wondering how they would like to be treated if they needed an operation and didn’t have health insurance. Would they appreciate denial of insurance? Would they want their child or grandchild to lose a parent or grandparent because they could not get health care?
How would they feel if they were on unemployment insurance and found it was going to end or be reduced in a week? How would they feel if they could not pay their mortgage or utility bills or the COBRA insurance for their cancer treatments?
How would they feel if they were a public school teacher with pay near the bottom of the 50 states and legislators were removing pay increases for graduate degrees and reducing overall public school funding?
How they would feel if they were a low wage worker and found their Earned Income Tax Credit was removed and this refund would no longer be available?
How they would feel if they worked six days every week and could not vote (or register to vote) except on Sundays and then found they would have to miss work (and therefore pay) in order to vote?
Can they look into the eyes of a four-year-old and tell that child he cannot go to pre-K because they cut the funding?
In 2003, the Rev. Jim Lambeth, my pastor, was chaplain for the NC House of Representatives until his unexpected and untimely death that October. I’d like to remember some prophetic phrases from his prayers for the General Assembly:
…may they always be able to put faces on their votes…may their decisions be a blessing for the common good for those who are affected by them….may they see the nameless and faceless, the children, the disenfranchised, as they seek the way of justice….give to each of these Representatives a sense of justice and wisdom in their use of the powers that have been given to them…
Ten years later these prayers are still relevant, and I echo them for our current legislators. May they see the faces of the uninsured, the unemployed, the low-wage worker, the under- paid public school teacher, and the children being affected by their legislative decisions.
It is my hope that those of us going to jail will bring these faceless and nameless citizens to the attention of our legislators, and they may rethink some of their decisions that harm their brothers and sisters.
–Sandy Irving, Volunteer Program Associate