As we near the end of the year, it’s common for people to reflect. I am hopeful that many will choose to reflect on the values they hold in their heart and what those values look like in action. As we gather around the table with family and friends, consider the future we’d like to see, the New Year we’d like to start, the people we want to be as Idahoans.
It brings me sadness to share that I recently received a death threat. Is this what our values look like? In January, the Idaho Legislature will reconvene and likely continue to vilify education as public enemy No. 1. Is that what our values look like? Many of us spent the last year becoming further removed from our families and neighbors because of divisive politics from leaders and special interest groups. Is that what our values look like? Is this the mirror we want held up to us?
I’ve been knocking on doors and have spoken to hundreds of voters, parents, and homeowners. I can say with confidence that the majority of us value safety, public education, and civility. We do have shared values, and they need to be our focus as we start the new year.
I speak to people with different views every day and have conversations that are civil and collaborative. This is the heart of Idaho. Idahoans value freedoms and security, which is why you’d never see this life-long Idahoan threaten someone who doesn’t think like me. I may challenge views but I would not threaten violence, because that is threatening someone else’s freedom and security.
The majority of people I talk to value public schools and want to see their children there. If we value having our kids in school, we should invest in them and work together to solve the problems our schools face, rather than degrading and abandoning our schools altogether.
The Holidays are often focused on our faith. Most of us claim to live by the golden rule and seek to love our neighbors and country. We must make sure our actions reflect that value. It can be difficult when those around us preach destructive politics in order to serve re-election campaigns, special interest groups, or extremism. Is that what we want to see in the mirror? Our society is a reflection of us as a collective. As the new year begins, we each get to decide what part we will play and what values we will put out into society.
We must hold ourselves, our neighbors and our legislature accountable to the people they signed up to serve. Service looks like values in action, and improvements in the everyday lives of regular Idahoans. That’s what my fellow Idahoans and I consistently agree on, and it’s time for us to participate in making that happen. The tactics that drive people to extreme actions, like death threats, defunding education, and a lack of love towards our neighbors can’t take hold if we don’t allow them to whip us into a frenzy and pit us against each other. We don’t have to agree on everything. In fact, we never will, but we can lead with our shared values, if we want a new year that looks different than the last. Remember the difference between reactivity and politics and peace and prosperity. Ask yourself, which you are contributing to. May the holiday season bring you comfort and joy and may we all choose to make it a happy New Year.