It was one of those warm spring days in the nation’s capital when the fresh promise of new possibilities seems, just for a moment, to defy the entrenched ways of Washington. Surrounded by the impressive vista of monuments and museums on the Mall, I stood behind a rough lectern on a make-shift stage, looking into the eyes of 1000 low-income people — mostly single mothers who had been on welfare. My job was to speak and my topic was hope. In a city where the currency is power, these poor Americans seemed a bit out of place. Not used to having much clout in their political system, you could tell they were feeling the energy that comes from just being together. They had come on buses from urban and rural communities to "lobby" the Congress for a new welfare reform bill — one that would effectively help people like themselves to escape poverty and move to self-sufficiency. I told them a story.
I remember another group of people who wanted to change things meeting in a high mountain town in Mexico, 2,000 miles from Washington D.c= Two-hundred fifty Christian leaders from 50 countries (mostly from the Southern Hemisphere) were gathered for a whole week to ask how they could learn to do a new kind of "advocacy." Having spent years doing service to the poor in their own countries, and now engaged in effective community development projects, they still saw the poor losing ground. So they had come from Latin America, Africa, and Asia to ask how they together might help change the rules of global trade and transform international economic practices enough to give poor countries and their people a fair chance to break the bonds of misery and deprivation. I told them the same story.