“Get right in there!”

Lobbying’s behind me, but civic engagement isn’t. I keep track of what my state legislature is doing and not doing on things like the right to life. A few days hence – when I’ll be away, as it happens – there will be seven hearings over two days on relevant bills.

Part of the work I do is to inform and encourage people who are concerned about human dignity, but who are still learning how to put that concern into public policy action. I sat down yesterday to write about the seven hearings – seven, when it can be a challenge to get people to turn out for even one.

Should I bother? I’m called to say Yes, whether I see results or not.

I keep in mind something Pope Francis said in 2015 in one of his unscripted moments. He was speaking to Catholic laity in Rome for a conference. From Carol Glatz of NCR Online:

Catholics must get involved in politics even if it may be “dirty,” frustrating and fraught with failure, Pope Francis said. Given today’s “throwaway” culture and so many problems unfolding in the world, “Do I as a Catholic watch from my balcony? No, you can’t watch from the balcony. Get right in there!” he said.

One man asked how to keep strong the link between faith in Jesus and the responsibility of building a more just and caring world.

Christians have a duty to work for the common good in the world of politics, the pope said, adding that that does not mean forming a Catholic political party.

“That is not the way. The church is the community of Christians who adore the Father, follow the way of the Son and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is not a political party,” he said.

However, individual Catholics must get involved and “embroiled” in politics, he said, because it is one of the “highest forms of charity” since it seeks the common good.

NCR Online, 5/1/15, accessed 2/4/23

Embroiled. Perfect term for how it sometimes feels for a lay Catholic to step up and testify in front of people who just don’t want to hear it, even though they were elected to listen.

So yes, I’ll write about seven hearings for the readers who ask me what’s happening at the State House. Those are the people who’ll take the information and “get right in there,” urging representatives to do the right things, in season and out of season.

“Pro-Life Journeys” news

A few promotional notes: Pro-Life Journeys is an Amazon Kindle Countdown Deal until 2/7/23: 99 cents for the e-book. And if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you already have access to the e-book via your Amazon account.

cover of book "Pro-Life Journeys" by Ellen Kolb, showing seaside path with trees

I published Pro-Life Journeys a few weeks ago in a so-called “soft launch,” but it felt pretty intense for this first-time author! It’s been great to meet interested readers and to share the stories from Pro-Life Journeys about some of the remarkable people I’ve met in the course of my work.

The paperback version is available on Amazon along with the e-book. Readers in my area can also get the paperback directly from me, with a quantity discount not available on Amazon: two or more copies (purchased at the same time) for $6 each. You can contact me using the form on the home page of this blog.

There’s no formal book tour, but I’ve been delighted to accept invitations from local friends to speak about the book. The result is always good conversation. Pictured below: a visit to my community TV studio for an interview by neighbor and legislator Jeanine Notter.

Discussing “Pro-Life Journeys” with Jeanine Notter on “Chattin’ With Jeanine,” Merrimack TV

A means, not an end

Worth remembering as an election looms and my mailbox overflows and the ads reach saturation points: “policy” is a means, not an end. The former lobbyist in me needs the reminder occasionally.

Journalist Kathryn Jean Lopez always provides edifying reading, and she has often made the point that getting a bill passed is not the same as building a culture of life. She summarized it best in these words: “Our efforts can’t be confined to policy. We have to give our lives to the work of reformation, restoration, reparation, renewal. We need to see human life as the tremendous, incomparable gift that it is, and help other people see that.”

I’ll keep telling people to get to the polls. And still, I can see that our most lasting work will be accomplished during the other 364 days in the year.