People have often said living in Portland is the equivalent of living in a bubble. After four years of residency there, the oddity and uniqueness have blended into normalcy. I always thought I had a grasp on recognizing that oddity, dismissing those qualities as unusable in the rest of the country. That was until I came back to my native Chicago last Tuesday for what will be just over two months.
In less than a week’s time, I have been called out for being an ultra-progressive liberal – the status quo in the Portland area. Where has my moderate yet impassive approach toward our state of government gone? My former approach has fallen to the side, making way for a passionate belief in a local, sustainable, modest, honest, and alternative approach to co-existing with other people and – equally as important – our environment.
Over the last two years, I have found myself overhauling my political, economical, and environmental beliefs, aligning them strongly with the movement of my city. This change in belief has been spilling over quite rapidly in conversation every opportunity I have had to engage family, friends, and acquaintances since arriving in Chicago. I find myself excited to share my concerns, observations, and solutions with these people and this city. I believe I have found a model of living that fits myself – one I’d like to spread to others.
The election is in a mere two days. It has been a road filled with excitement, disbelief, and frustration, peppered with attacks from both parties. After Tuesday, our country will have chosen a path. When this path is laid before us, many will choose to embark on it and many others will choose to turn in the opposite direction. In the end, something will change, whether it be the progression of the collective self or the triumph of individual opportunity. This upcoming election represents a divide in the collective perspective of our nation. Each candidate has presented us with a vision of the future – two strikingly different futures. These futures are going to be built on the basis of change from our current situation.
The idea of change has been presented in countless forms; we’ve seen it throughout our country’s history – it’s how we were founded and how our current president was elected. This very history has been romanticized to promote patriotism and other economical values (yes, patriotism has become just that) in which our collective vision has been decimated. Our country was founded by a diverse group of people but our laws and rights were written by few, doing little to reflect this diversity. The change that sparked this nation is the change that holds true value – the need to break free of restraint to provide for each member of one’s family.
It’s been 230+ years and people are still desperately seeking the change necessary to provide basic rights like clean drinking water, equal pay for women, civil union rights for all people, equal opportunity for true small businesses, and quality education not based on a family’s income. This is the change that we must set our sites on, raising the quality of life for all parties.
Our country, since its inception, has been a leader of this planet. Let’s bring this vision to other countries, let’s set the example in human decency and not economic greed and exploitation. Our country, specifically the people that we see everyday, have the opportunity to present this change once more to a world that is coming to an impasse culturally, economically, and environmentally. I am here to present this change with conviction and passion, the same passion that has survived inside me from my ancestors who crossed the Atlantic over four-hundred years ago to find the same quality of life that we as a human species have the responsibility to provide to all.