Over the past weekend, I received the chance to participate in Legislative Days because I am a member of the Governor’s Youth Advisory Council. As a member of the Council, I have the opportunity to discuss legislation concerning education, child welfare and food insecurity. In order to have the confidence to speak about my beliefs, I have spent many years discovering what I truly believe and finding a voice.
In the past, I have written about listening to others, and I truly believe that the only way to discover your beliefs is to listen to others, take in all the information presented to you, and understand how it pertains to you. We have to be bold enough to use our voices, but we have to be brave enough to listen to conflicting opinions in order to be strong enough to create the world we imagine.
Sadly, however, I often hear others complaining about society and the world, but it is imperative to understand that we are society. If we want to change our problems, we have to be proactive by making a change within ourselves in order to solve problems in our society. For that reason, I decided that I would use my voice by joining the Governor’s Youth Advisory Council.
Before attending Legislative Days, I felt as if society could solve all of its problems if everyone just did their part to help. However, as I considered each bill presented before me, I realized that every bill had a benefit and a drawback, so a solution for our economy may cause a problem in our environment.
For example, one of the bills being considered involves placing a tax on water bottles in order to fund the repair of roads. In order to fix the problem with our roads that we so fervently complain about, we have to procure the money somehow. As taxes rise while we are fixing roads, society will almost certainly complain about the exorbitantly high tax rate, so we eventually have to reduce the taxes.
Therefore, the problem with many of our solutions is that there is always a drawback to consider. Too often, we are so focused on the seemingly perfect outcome that we don’t consider every aspect that may affect us if the legislation is implemented. Fixing our roads seems perfect, but amassing the money is difficult.
After learning about the difficulty of every legislative decision, I found a new respect for our senators and governor. I feel as if our society is so harsh toward our leaders, but they carry a massive burden as they attempt to fix roads and create a prosperous economy without raising taxes too much or disrupting the mass majority of the public.
Through my experience at Legislation Days, I also discovered that we have to be careful before we use our voices. In our society, we often toss around words carelessly, but they can never be retrieved. Our voices are powerful, so, if we see a problem in society, we need to use our voice to talk about the problem, but we have to consider how the solutions will affect every aspect of our world.
For instance, climate change is a heated topic and will remain a heated topic until we find a compromise. However, many of the solutions that have been presented are dangerous for the economy, forcing politicians to choose between the economy or the climate. Today, though, I am using my voice to say that we need to look beyond these solutions.
One of the most common solutions is to reduce our use of cars and factories, but we would have to sacrifice our own comfortable lifestyles and economic stability in order to fulfill this flawed solution. Instead, we need to consider what society has done in the past when we discover a problem.
What if we can create a machine that is able to take the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and turn it into energy? Although this may have a large price tag associated with it, society must then weigh the benefits and the drawbacks, analyzing if it is more beneficial to spend money on a machine that can preserve our environment or allow the climate change discussion to burn a path of division in our society.
Our voices are important for our society to function, but we should be more careful when we speak about the problems in our society, considering the benefits and the drawbacks of the solutions we want to propose. We have the power to make a change because we have created a free marketplace in which we can exchange ideas. We can buy into other’s ideas and invest in meaningful solutions, but, most importantly, we have to consider the repercussions of every resolution.
Emelia Richling is a sophomore at Northwest High School.