June 13, 2008

Be the Change

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

As we usher in a new legislative session, we are filled with a sense of hope and expectation. In 2006, the voters of Wisconsin chose a bright new direction for the state.  As we begin this new progressive era for Wisconsin, My colleagues and I are proud to be at the forefront, fighting to advance this vision of a brighter tomorrow.

We cannot, however, do this alone.  I hope that you will commit to getting involved.  Only by knowing the issues and letting your voice be heard can we begin to create the changes our community needs. 

One of my favorite sayings is that “decisions are made by those who show up.”  Throughout our lives, many of us have felt extremely disempowered.  We have felt like we have no say.  The only way that we can truly reverse this trend is to show up, speak up, and speak out.

I will always remember the story that Congresswoman Gwen Moore tells about the first time she spoke out on an issue.  She organized her entire community to stop predatory lending.  One person, with one voice, was able to affect the lives of thousands of people.  You too can step up to this challenge, and you must.

All around us, we see our community in crisis.  Our schools are crumbling, our streets are not safe, our health care is unaffordable, and our neighborhoods are falling apart.  Only you can truly change that.

You must always remember that we, as elected officials, work for you.  Our most important duty is to our constituents, and our community.  Sadly, many of our leaders forget that because people do not always participate in the process.  It is up to you to remind us who we work for!

This may seem like a very daunting challenge.  But there is no power quite like a community united for progress.  When you stand up for what you believe, and speak out, others will do so as well.  By taking those first steps, you are living the words of Gandhi, who said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Without you, we cannot hope to make the progress that we all know is needed.  Decisions are made by those who show up.  Just ask Dr. King and Rev. Jackson, and Congresswoman Moore.  You too can fight for your community, and create a brighter tomorrow for all of our brothers and sisters.