In this era of emails and texting, hand-written letters still have a powerful — maybe even stronger — impact.
As work gets underway in Congress and state legislatures, citizens are often urged to contact their elected representatives on various issues.
Catholics Confront Global Poverty
Although some of us still like to send hand-written “snail mail” letters, I thought perhaps they might be considered obsolete. Not so, says advice given by Catholics Confront Global Poverty (CCGP), an initiative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services.
This initiative — called “the official voice of the Catholic Church in the U.S” — urges Catholics and our nation to defend the lives and dignity of people living in poverty worldwide through advocacy and action.
January also happens to be Poverty Awareness Month sponsored by the U.S. bishops. The Catholic community in the United States, they say, is taking up Pope Francis’ challenge to live in solidarity with the poor.
Tips on writing letters
On its website (www.confrontglobalpoverty.org), CCGP has suggestions on how Catholics can help confront global poverty. One idea is to write letters to members of Congress.
“While it’s quicker to email your members of Congress, a handwritten letter goes much farther,” it says. “Not only will it not get lost in an inbox, but it will stand out in our era of overwhelming electronic communication.”
The website has a sample letter which could be sent to a member of Congress. Here are the suggestions about writing an effective letter:
Step 1: RELAX
• You don’t have to be an expert on the issue. The fact that you care about the issue and people impacted is enough.
Step 2: CREDENTIAL YOURSELF
• First and foremost, state that you are a constituent.
• List the organization that you represent or are a member of (i.e., parish and diocese, college or university, youth group).
• Let them know if you’re a member of Catholics Confront Global Poverty.
Step 3: KEEP IT SHORT
• Be concise, limiting your letter to one page if possible.
• After establishing yourself as a constituent, identify the issue you’re concerned about. What do you want them to do? Why do you care about it?
Step 4: BE YOURSELF
• Be sure to state why this issue matters to you: Is your faith calling you to respond to this issue? Have you traveled or met someone impacted by this issue? Including a personal story makes your letter more compelling and helps it stand out.
Step 5: ASK
• What do you want your legislator to do? Be clear and specific; for example, “Vote yes in support of bill (name and number).”
OTHER HELPFUL TIPS
• Use the appropriate address and salutation.
• Be polite. Like most of us, members of Congress will respond better to positive communication.
• Write legibly if you’re handwriting your letter.
• Proofread your letter for typos and other mistakes.
• Check the member’s website and social media accounts to see where they stand on the issue.
MAILING YOUR LETTER
Because of security procedures on Capitol Hill, we recommend that you mail your letter to your member’s district office. You can find out your legislators’ district office locations by visiting their websites or house.gov and senate.gov
So it sounds like a good idea to write a letter to your congressional or state legislators (and this should work equally well for the president, governor, or any other person in office).
Let your thoughts be known. Besides voting, this is an important part of our responsibility as faithful citizens.