The recent state of events has brought us to “home base” in many aspects of our lives. Whether we are staying home or finding creative ways to be present in other places through the ways of modern technology, this new state of play has allowed for a pause to gather our thoughts and give us a few moments to reassess our priorities. While we are doing this individually, the government is in the same position nationally.
We saw this most recently with the first passage of the CARES Act. With the news of extending stay-at-home orders, all of the priorities from the weeks’ prior budget were reassessed to handle the current crisis. Funds were able to be diverted to provide support to small businesses, relief to those facing unemployment, and students were given a brief reprieve with their student loan debt. As we see the next wave of relief face even more difficulty, we realize that other priorities are striving to make it to the top. Political parties are trying to find ways to make their agendas vital to receiving funding in the middle of a global pandemic.
Additionally, non-governmental organizations and others attempting to look beyond the coronavirus pause are examining ways to get their favored priority back to the top of the legislation list. Others may find themselves asking what their new priorities for Congress are in light of the new circumstances and perhaps even feeling as if they are starting from the beginning. Once the threat of the coronavirus lifts, we shouldn’t worry because essentially we are all starting from the beginning, so their thinking goes.
Where do we want to go from here?
In an iconic scene in “You’ve Got Mail,” we find Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) trapped in an elevator for an extensive time with his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend (Parker Posey), who is overly frustrated at the idea of an elevator malfunction ruining her day, and several others who coincidentally have no way of knowing how long they will be stuck in an elevator of strangers. After what seems like an eternity, everyone in the elevator takes their turn making declarations of how their lives will be different on the other side of those doors. There sits Joe Fox, realizing that the elevator attendant had his life more figured out than himself. It took the forced opportunity of being stuck with nowhere to go for Joe Fox to examine his life’s decisions and realize that something was off.
Many of us have been trapped in our homes much longer than those on the elevator, and we are given the opportunity to examine our priorities. Congress is doing the same. Where should monies be diverted to? How can we accomplish our goals as a nation amidst a global crisis? As a political party, what are we going to champion as critical to the advancement of our society?
While we are all still “trapped in the elevator” with many things on our daily agenda on hold, how are we going to live life differently? What are the key issues that motivate us to stand up for the least of these in our culture?
Once we see the end of this chaotic whirlwind, and we will, we may find that we want to find new ways to reach out to those in our communities and offer our gifts of service. We might read in the Daily Citizen or our morning news of a new bill coming to the House floor that we want to learn more about. We may even want to volunteer at our local Pregnancy Resource Center to help those struggling with how to care for their new baby. The opportunities are endless. Surely we will see new needs arise that we may have never known about before.
As for me, I hope I’m the elevator attendant who knows the path to take when this is all over. His priorities came because of love. I hope mine do too.
Ashley Brannon works as the External and Government Affairs Representative for Focus on the Family in Washington D.C. She has been involved in policy, finance, and community relations around the Beltway and in her current role puts many of those components to use by meeting with congressional staff and coalition partners to share the work of Focus on the Family. She is an Adjunct Professor for Business Communications at a local college and spends time interacting with students about effective communication. Earning her MBA in leadership from Liberty University, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications, and is also a Colson Fellow for the Colson Center for Christian Worldview