Legislative Day, and some Unexpected Information about our Government – by Katniss Skepticteen
It was not too long ago when I received the slip of paper in the middle of class. Curiously, I opened it, and was immediately captivated by the first sentence. It read something along the lines of, “On Wednesday, April 3rd, you will have the opportunity to shadow a legislator at the state capitol building for the district’s Legislative Day.” This was a chance to finally escape the world of textbooks and observe it all for myself, to learn all the information I had been hungry for over the years! I quickly submitted my application form, and the required essay about a legal matter of my choice (in which I discussed discrimination in the workplace). Several days later, I was informed that I had been accepted, and I could not wait for the calendar to declare that it was finally April 3rd. I was ecstatic! I had always been intrigued by the presented issues, the debates, the environment, and the overall legislative procedures. I had no idea that I would learn of something far more relevant to me in this stage of my life.
I’ll cut right to the chase. I had been calmly observing the senators as they rushed to their seats from my view on the western side of the floor, when, out of nowhere, boomed, “We’d like to ask all to rise and join us in a morning prayer.” That’s right. Before getting down to the business that we elected them to do, every last legislator participated in a morning prayer. I felt heat rushing to my face, and my heart racing against my chest – not because I felt embarrassed, or nervous, or any of the typical emotions of a teenaged girl, but because I was panicking about the fact that this had been going on for who knew how long. It didn’t help when I noticed the video cameras installed in the corners of the room, thus suggesting that officials – well, other officials – approved of this. But the most painful realization I had in that blurred moment (are you recognizing a theme here?!) was that groups and people of all ages had circulated through the place over the years, invited just as I was, and witnessed exactly what I had. The public was not entirely oblivious to this. But those who were aware, however few, were either perfectly compliant, unwilling to express disagreement, or unsuccessful in doing so.
My instincts told me to take action - I wish I could have. Instead, I simply held my head up in silent protest, scanning the crowd for a single other face. Nope. It was just a sea of bowed heads, and remained that way until the echoing, “Amen.” We were all instructed to take our seats once again, as if nothing had happened. And, to most of these people, it really was nothing.
In spite of the countless other elements of the lawmaking process which fascinated me throughout the day, combined with the kindness of the legislators I met, thoughts of that prayer continued to linger in my mind without relent. It really bothered me that, in essence, the leaders of our citizens found this appropriate. The people whom I entrused to determine the best solutions to societal problems were starting that with a prayer to God.
I believe that what’s truly important, however, is not something to be said in the past tense. It’s in the present. Do you guys think there’s a solution to things like this, no matter how seemingly trivial to others, at this point in time? And, if so, what can we do?