“Insight Stones” – from Nathaniel Dunigan’s Journal
Escorted through private offices and past a back corner conference table, I emerged into the Congressional Hearing Room via the non-public entrance at the top. From there, I was able to quickly survey the space from the viewpoint of the Members of Congress who would soon be hearing my testimony. I looked down to the witness table. My name on a placard, a special place card for this tiny course served at one of history’s tables.
I had been invited to be among four on a panel of “experts” presenting statements at this hearing on “AIDS Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Africa”.
It was amazing to me that after 19 short months on the job in Uganda, I was in a position to express my thoughts and opinions to significant persons of authority in the United States.
I’ll admit that my first impressions were not as noble as I would like. In fact, they were more nerdy than statesmanlike, actually expressed through simple verbiage like “Neat!” or even a goofy “Cool!”.
Soon, the witnesses were introduced. I was second on my panel. It was so gratifying to look into thoughtful eyes and attentive spirits. It went well.
Good questions and discussions followed. Some exciting developments. There was a lot to indicate long-term effects beyond a “thank-you-for-testifying, see-you-later” pat on the back. This felt significant and worthwhile.
Before I knew it, the hearing was over. As I scooted the chair away from the table, and stood to receive questions and greetings from different individuals present that day, I felt a surreality I have sensed before. I was reminded not of the greatness of humankind or of its expressions of influence, but rather of the power of goodness and compassion. They motor our vessels down straits of difficulty, through omni-important lagoons of peaceful perfection, and in rivers of daily life, until we are surrounded–suddenly, occasionally, briefly–by a pool that beckons us to cast our insight-stone. To make a ripple. Leave a wake.
To say something.
Yet, my “neat” and “cool” sentiments were humbled. I keenly knew that I was only a wee part of hundreds, even thousands, of this year’s governmental sessions. Hearing ears for my voice were gratifying, but for me, it was all quite absolutely drowned-out by the continuously falling flood of child-tears. Their echoes, their voices, call me to action every day. They create their own critical pool around me.
And today would be no different.
I did my post-hearing briefings. I met Members of Congress. I made plans to implement good ideas.
And I went back to work.
For my kids.
More info about the hearing–and the transcript of Nathaniel’s testimony–can be found at www.house.gov/international_relations/duni0417.htm.