Senator Michael Dembrow is a favorite Oregon legislator of mine. Recently he welcomed thirty to forty Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon citizen lobbyists into his office space for a stand up meeting (we couldn't all fit in his office conference room). We made our pitch for the six issues we had come to Salem to lobby for: climate justice, gun violence prevention, health care, housing, hunger, and wage theft. We didn't all speak, but designated spokespeople plucked from the crowd gave our reasons for supporting each issue.
Then it was his turn. He flattered us a little before he really got started, "you are the biggest group ever to come all this way from my district." He is a warm guy with a teacherly manner. He was a community college teacher before he became a legislator. But after jollying us up, he got down to business and gave us some great advice. Apparently there is still a lot of teacher in Michael Dembrow.
And then our 15 minutes were up and he sent us on our way.
We put our faith in qualities that seem powerful. Qualities like truth, or innovation, or the power of money, or the power of competency and hard work. All that isn't unimportant. Yet, we rarely give enough credence to our human warmth and the stories and lessons of our lives. Frankly, when we were children we were authentic, friendly and full of stories. However, we learned early that wasn't enough -- we needed to do our homework and learn our times tables and pass a whole lot of tests. Forget about all that interpersonal stuff, we were told one way or another. And yet, power comes from all kinds of unlikely places and a huge source of power is interpersonal connection.
After I get over the shock of his words I get another feeling. It feels like a blast of freedom from an impossible standard. Suddenly I like knowing that I am best as an advocate, best as a citizen, when I am being most human.
How about you? How does it make you feel?
Rev. Katie Larsell
A social justice minister doing social justice things. And other things -- Including riding my Electric Bicycle.
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