“The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America has never been about what can be done for us it’s about what can be done by us, by the hard, frustrating but necessary work of self-governance. That is the principle we were founded on. This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich.
What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth, the belief that our destiny is shared, that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and the future generations so that the freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for comes with responsibilities as well as rights and among those are love, and charity, and duty, and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.” -President Barack Obama on the night of his re-election to a second term as President.
Elections allow us to look at contemporary issues of our day, soda/sugar and the extent to which it is exacerbating one of the worst epidemics of our time, or whether our moral convictions or confidence in our criminal justice system is so fool-proof that we are willing as a state to continue the practice of human executions, or whether we are ready to accept that who one loves should be honored equally in the eyes of the law.
As neighbors, as residents, as public servants, as social entrepreneurs we must remember that the change we want to see requires discourse and disagreement, and talking to people who don’t always agree with you. And it requires that we keep working on our shared destiny. The new voter, the first time voter, the registered voter who didn’t vote, the eligible but not registered voter, these are voices we need to find, engage, and bring order to the dialogue.
On election night while watching the returns with friends, a 12-year-old child asked me rather innocently, “what does this election have to do with me?” The answer of course was “everything.”
As a community foundation working in one of the most diverse regions in our nation, our role in fostering civic participation, civic dialogue, and of inspiring the next generation of civic leadership is work that is not done. It is work that has a long arc. An arc that we hold as an obligation for generations to come. The work is not done.