Not over mountain passes in January as Rory Stewart claims in The Places in Between, but we walked to many places as part of our assignment as Peace Corps vaccinators. With a counterpart or two or on our own, we’d make our way slowly through a village of several houses or several hundred stopping to get inside the walls, locate everyone, and vaccinate them. Those we’d meet between houses would often stop to see what we were about. We’d nod and smile, exchange peace-be-with-you, even stop to talk with more forward Afghan males. Children would tag along chattering with excitement at the diversion. At the end, we’d walk to the next village a few miles away.

The footpaths wound along the edges of wheat fields and rice paddies, over dry stream beds, across irrigation ditches, past poppy fields, places where farmers were threshing wheat or grinding corn with animal power. In the silence that falls on a group slowly making its way to the next work place, we had time to notice the details of terrain and human activity. Desert hills and snow-capped mountains alike made an indelible impression as did the slow, natural pace of the work day.

There’s a petition circulating. Likely you’ve seen it. It asks us to demand Congress to give back its special privileges like its pension, retirement fund, health insurance, and other precious perks. A tall order, but one that suits our mood, a distinct distrust of our politicians to understand what work they should be doing.

I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I’d like to ask this. Our Congress women and men walk to and from work or take public transportation. Let’s slow down the pace, give them a chance to notice things, greet strangers, and begin to understand what ordinary people - those mythical folks all politicians claim to speak for - are like.