Our old friend Ralph Hall had taken my wife and I to lunch in the House Dining Room, in our Capital Building. In the room, we watched, as many U.S. Congressmen, and Congresswomen walked in and ordered lunch. They were smiling, shaking hands, alive with cordiality. If only they could take that good spirit with them into the halls of Congress or the Senate.
Image comment: U.S. Congressman Ralph Hall and Ben and Saneh Boothe.
"Ralph, I hate to say it, but it seems to us out in heartland, that this Congress is dysfunctional." I said.
Ralph Hall is the oldest member of the U.S. Congress, and a long time friend, certainly not one to mince words or play games. "You are right." He said. "It is worse now in 2011 than when I came to work here, years ago. The Republicans won't work with the Democrats and the Democrats can't work with the Republicans. We are grid locked here."
"Is there a solution?" I asked. "Yes" Ralph said. Just let the Republicans run things for 10 years and then let the Democrats run things for 10 years. It is the only way that I see. They sure can't work with each other."
After lunch, my wife commented on the Capital. "What a striking place this is. And I see that the Library of Congress sits on a hill, slightly higher than the Capital Building."
Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, those wise founders of our nation, designed the city, so that the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, would both be in a prominent setting,slightly higher up the hill than the Capital, to remind our leaders of two things. 1. Books of wisdom are to be cherished and read to gain wisdom and intelligence. 2. Laws are to be fair and equal, with justice, administered to all with grace. The founding fathers wanted the library of Congress and the Supreme court to be "slightly above" politicians.
My wife wanted to go and read some of the historic works in the Library of Congress. My suggestion for the US Congress is that each member of Congress, especially the young newly elected crowd. They should follow her example and spend a bit more time in the Library of Congress, and less time generating division and strive in the Congress and the Senate.
There is a special private reading room (rarely used) just for members of Congress to come to quietly study and ponder upon our nation's greatest books. The idea was to help our leaders find knowledge. To find-insights, to help lead our nation. The Congressional reading room is the least used room in Washington, D.C.!
Saneh, born in Persia, now an American Citizen, found inspiration in the Library of Congress.
The room was empty, when we dropped in. I asked the librarian "Can we come in. I am not a Congressman, but I ran for US Congress once." She said: "Close enough. The elected ones don't use it, so come on in!" If any of our elected representatives use the reading room, they might find, like my wife found, a new appreciation for the United States and for the wisdom of our founding fathers, in that library. A person cannot sit in that "Temple to knowledge", without being inspired and uplifted by the collection of the world's greatest books. It is the largest library in the world.
We made our way by underground tunnel to the Capital, and I asked Ralph Hall, what the name of the statue atop the Capital building was. He said: "Some call her Freedom or Liberty'.
"A lot of people believe that, but they miss something." I said. "The statue atop our capital, is the image of the Roman goddess Minerva. The Romans got her image and idea from the Greek goddess Athena. The Greeks got her from the Zoroastrians and the Zoroastrians got her from Egypt. It is the image of Isis. The Goddess of Wisdom, Power, Truth, Education, Justice. Isis once said; 'I am the the one without beginning or without end'." In fact if you look closely, she has an Egyptian style crown on her head. She is there, to lift us to a higher intellectual level. Just like the Library of Congress is, a stone's throw, across the street.
Our nation's founders,wanted a symbol that permeated the ages overlooking our Capital. They wanted a symbol of wisdom, power, truth, education and justice atop the building that houses our politicians. And they wanted the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress to be built slightly above the Capital, for good measure.
We aren't lucky enough to have many Ralph Hall's in D.C.. He is one of those patriotic people who put loyalty to friends, people and their community and nation, above dogma. Ralph knows that by caring for people and communities, that he encourages and empowers Americans. He doesn't cater to giant money, just like Sam Rayburn who preceded him in his district. Ralph caters to people. Something that Minerva, and the great books of the Library of Congress teach. Some of the new crowd in Washington might take a second look at the woman atop the Capital building and see what she is trying to teach us all. And perhaps they can spend some time in their "private" reading room, and pick up that most rare substance in D.C.....wisdom.