I am preparing to meet with a legislative delegation in Harrisburg to discuss an unfair, and harsh rate cut for in-home attendant care that has compromised the important services needed by people with disabilities, and elders served by our agency, CLASS in western PA. When I talked to a kindly legislative aid to get logistical details, I asked how this caucus usually unfolds, she told me and then said, "just tell them what "they" need.
After hanging up the phone I thought about what she said - just tell them what they need; what "they" need. This got me thinking. It seems day in, and day out legislators, and public officials meet with constituents listening to what "they" need; how government can help "them."
Think about this - it is as if the legislators, or public officials are outside the sphere of needs. More, when do "they" become we? And finally, when do "they" become us?
This abstraction between those that govern us, and all the rest of us might just be at the core of our current public disconnection. I have been doing a lot of advocacy over my years in human services, and one thing I have learned is that when public officials personally experience a situation, they begin to think differently. In a way, they become us, and this humanizes life.
Maybe good public services really boil down to this basic humanization. If legislators would recognize that they ARE us, we would have better government and a more compassionate face to our society.