The League of Young Voters

Will Maine Be The Change? — By Melanie Horton
February 17, 2008, 4:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

One of my favorite quotes is “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi’s timeless words have become increasingly meaningful to me lately as I’ve been contemplating this idea of being the change and how that relates to what is going on in Maine right now. When I went to GROW this past summer, I met some incredible activists from all corners of the state. It gave me this great sense that Maine really can live up to it’s motto of “The way life should be” and serve as an example for the nation. We’ve got a lot of work to do before we reach that point, but I think we are moving in the right direction in many ways. Some events I attended recently reaffirmed this feeling.

The Changing Maine workshop held in Augusta last week, “Talking Openly about Diversity, Oppression & Racism in Maine”, got me thinking more about what “being the change” really means. This workshop was an introduction to a three day course that the Changing Maine facilitators offer. Over 40 people attended this workshop and clearly one day was not enough time to even scratch the surface of the effects of oppression and racism and how the damaging cycle of Colonialism is still perpetuated today.

Along a much different vein, but equally as inspiring to me, Tuesday’s PACTS public forum illustrated how a group of people can mobilize very quickly around an issue and put forth their own vision. Over 100 Leaguers, USM students and community members attended the forum to speak and show support for developing transportation infrastructure and transit options that benefit people and the planet and serve our regional needs.

Attending both of these events reassured me that being the change—creating the change—is possible and is happening in Miane. This fills me with so much hope, which is why is find myself conflicted when I read national headlines about rampant violence, war, poverty, exploitative trade agreements or global warming. I can’t help but wonder how we got to such a place in human history where the problems we face seem so insurmountable and real, systematic change seems so difficult to attain, so far on the horizon.

Popular media seems to perpetuate a cycle of cynicism, paranoia and negative thinking. I don’t want us to ignore the injustice, violence and hatred that exist in the world—of course it is not only important, but necessary, to acknowledge and organize around national and global issues. But, I hope that at the same time we reject these facets of reality and work to hold those in power accountable, we create and live our own vision together in community. Only by doing so can we prove the sustainability and viability of the future we purpose to want.

I haven’t traveled much in my 25 years or lived anywhere else since childhood, so maybe I don’t have a complete sense of the national so-called “progressive landscape”. But, I want to believe that everywhere in this potentially great country people like me and the hard working, dedicated folks I am increasingly finding myself surrounded by, are working to improve their immediate surroundings in whatever way they can. The little changes we can make at home and in our hearts matter and have a ripple effect. We can change things from the inside out. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.


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