OP/ED: Sometimes, A Child Reminds Us
Rep. Frank Guinta puts things into perspective in his biweekly "Frankly Speaking" column.
By Frank Guinta
On almost any weekday, the halls of Congress are filled with hundreds of people hurrying to meet with Congressmen and Senators. I make a point of sitting down with a wide array of folks from New Hampshire representing all points on the political spectrum and listen as they share their views on various issues and legislation. This is the way the Founding Fathers designed our system to work, and I’m honored to carry on the tradition of representative government.
A few weeks ago, a special Granite Stater dropped by my Washington office. This unusual visitor wanted to share something that he feels strongly about, and I learned a remarkable lesson from our time together. It was so special, I want to tell you about it.
In many ways, Declan Gregg (no relation to the former Senator) of Greenland, New Hampshire is a typical nine year-old boy. He goes to school and is a member of a loving, supportive family. But Declan has something most other kids his age don’t posses: a strong passion for an issue that he cares deeply about. And he stands up for that belief, too.
Declan doesn’t just oppose the inhumane treatment of horses; he’s actively involved in trying to stop it. It all started when he read details about how horses are sometimes put down. He studied both sides of the issue and made a decision: he supported efforts to end cruelty. That alone is unusual for a nine year-old. But Declan decided he had to do more than merely oppose this practice… he had to personally try to end it. This is where his story becomes remarkable.
First, he created a blog to share his views and to provide information on the issue. He even posted information about relevant pending legislation.
Next, he went to Concord and testified at the state capitol about a bill concerning horse meat production and sales.
Finally, this boy’s personal campaign brought him to Capitol Hill a few weeks ago. He knew people have various opinions on this controversial subject and wanted to weigh in on it. Declan presented me with more than 200 letters from people who share his concerns. I listened as he made a thoughtful presentation of his views. Then I took him onto the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives during a vote and introduced him to other Members of Congress.
While he was in Washington, Declan also got meet the president of the U.S. Humane Society, several Senators and Congressmen, and attended committee hearings. All this from a boy who hasn’t finished the fourth grade yet!
Declan said something that stuck with me: "Just because we are children doesn't mean we can't stand up for what we believe in. We are citizens of this country and decisions made by adults affect us, too."
It would be easy to dismiss Declan’s enthusiasm as naiveté. But his passion goes beyond the optimism of youth. He genuinely believes horses should be protected from slaughter. And he acts on that conviction because he hasn’t heard the voices of negativity that keep so many of our citizens shackled to indifference and inaction. We’ve all heard the lines before: “Why should I bother? One person can’t make a difference. You can’t change anything. I’m just too busy to get involved.”
Declan Gregg is proof those arguments don’t hold water. Another nine years will pass before he’ll be old enough to vote for the first time. He’s not waiting to reach that milestone to arrive; he’s too busy fighting for his belief today. In a time when Americans bemoan the partisan gridlock that’s taken root in Washington, Declan’s involvement shows one person can be a catalyst for change.
Sometimes, it takes a child to remind us what’s important. Sometimes a child must remind us that as citizens, we each have a personal responsibility to work for the changes we want to see. Sometimes, we just need to stop and listen to the children for a minute. You’ll be amazed at what they have to say.
I look forward to reporting back to you in two weeks on the latest developments in Washington. In the meantime, if I can be of service to you, or if you want to share your thoughts, suggestions or concerns with me, please call either my district office in Manchester at (603) 641-9536 or my Washington office at (202) 225-5456, or contact me through my website at www.Guinta.House.Gov. You can also follow what I’m doing 24/7 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/repfrankguinta and on Twitter at @RepFrankGuinta.
Until next time, please know that I am always on your side and am actively fighting for New Hampshire’s interests in Washington.