This is my 44th year in continuous, full-time service in elected office, eight years at the local level, but most of it in our state legislature.
I only say that to tell you this: The longer I serve, the more convinced I am that civil government is NOT going to provide us with the solutions to most of our bigger problems.
It's not the answer.
I do hasten to add two things:
** government IS our servant and DOES provide basic, critical services to we, the people;
** we need to respect our leaders, even when they frustrate us or go out of bounds.
This goes double now as we face a new disease that finds us in uncharted waters.
We are seeing this mix:
** a new disease
** fear of the unknown
** growing inability to sustain individuals, families, businesses and communities
** authoritative use of a section of state law in ways that were never intended by the legislators and governor who enacted it years ago.
Now my main point: We MUST get on track with a new normal to live free but responsible lives as individuals and as communities.
What does that look like?
I answer with the challenge that we make this New Normal Pledge: pray, protect and provide.
A pledge has mean only when we act on it.
We’re starting with prayer, but not the more common prayer where we list our needs and wants, asking God to serve US.
It's prayer that engages our eyes, our ears, our minds, our hearts and our hands. And sometimes even our mouths.
This prescription starts with we, the people – as individuals and in community – establishing, renewing or strengthening our relationship with the God upon whom we are wholly dependent, even if we fail to admit it, and, regardless of whether we accept or reject His offer to live in intimate relationship with Him.
Leaders, from our nation’s founding, have publicly called for humbling ourselves in the hand of a loving, providing God.
This is such a time.
I implore all of us, myself included, to take this first step of the pledge – a pledge to be renewed daily.
Second, we pledge to protect. By this we mean we will continue to protect those who we understand are the most vulnerable to this new disease. These are the same folks who already needed our supports because they are at risk in other ways as well. They have weakened immune systems and poor health for various reasons, especially when confined to living in institutional communities, such as hospitals, prisons, or long term care facilities.
This is complicated by the need to also support and protect those who live with or are providing care to these higher risk folks. This means, as examples, that a great many health care and first responder safety providers and their own families are also in danger of contracting or transmitting this disease.
It’s high time to give commitment to provide an equally footing to protect.
We ALL need help pick up the pieces and muster courage to provide what is needed.
Business, industry and commerce must get back into a more normal gear.
Social relationships are foundational to healthy living.
There is a time when government leaders must intervene forcefully for the public's safety. We are experiencing one of those times in a very unusual way.
Yes, our new normal does require new precautions, since at this point, we still have to consider the possibility that any of us could be contagious or that the virus might be present in things around us.
But the wreckage is beginning to pile up. Many of our families and businesses have already exhausted their ability to sustain themselves and provide for others, including paying taxes to government.
It is now time to re-balance protecting and providing by targeting intervention to the most at-risk and by giving the rest of our people back the freedom that they actually have had all along -- the freedom to live responsibly under the social contract of our state and federal constitutions.
Let’s take the daily pledge to pray, protect and provide.