GET BREAKING NEWS IN YOUR BROWSER. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS.

X

PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

By Junie Joseph

As a former White House intern, I had the opportunity to see Joe Biden speak before our intern class. Young and bright-eyed, I was captivated by his power as vice president, and his humility as a man who suffered great personal tragedies.

I cannot speak personally about Biden at length because I did not know him apart from the time he spent with us interns and what I had seen on TV. I did, however, have the opportunity to support a conference on one of his initiatives — the Violence Against Women Act. This federal legislation stands as a symbol of progress on the protection and promotion of the rights of women against domestic violence and sexual assault.

While many contend that Biden has not done enough based on the length of his tenure within the government, others believe he has accomplished much more than we are willing to give him credit for, given the constraints of the time in which he served. Creating effective change within government often takes longer than anticipated, and Joe Biden was not exempt from the constraint of government processes. Regardless of where one stands on this debate, on the efficacy of Joe Biden as an elected leader, the ability to freely disagree with one another and criticize one’s own elected official is what makes our democracy unique. Yet, this power to disagree and to criticize one’s leaders comes with an equally great responsibility.

The health and longevity of our democracy depend on our willingness to respect diverse and dissenting points of view. We, as a collective, share a responsibility to each other and to our community to respect contrasting opinions, and to show humility and compassion to our neighbors. We must not let our differences divide us, but rather, unite us — for it is the amalgamation of our unique experiences and perspectives that will eventually lead to something richer, stronger, more powerful and more ethical than what we could create by ourselves. We all share the common goal of wanting what is best for the community, but hostility and meanness are counterproductive, distractin, and ultimately hinder our progress.

I understand the eagerness and desire for quick change. I too am eager to see progressive changes in our community. Progressive activists on the frontline are fighting for a better, more just and more equitable world. I too champion these values. But again, change is slow to come because our government mechanisms are complex. With the changing political and socioeconomic landscape, it is getting even more complex to advocate for social justice and human rights policies. Moreover, as a member of the Boulder City Council I realized there is a gap between ideals and the reality on the ground. Since I have been on council, on top of fighting for the ideals that I still believe in, I am striving to close the unanticipated gaps.

To that end, in my position as a councilmember, I may not get it right every time, but I stand behind the decisions I have made thus far, learning from each decision. Working in a group requires finesse, cooperation and restraints. An elected official must replace their campaign hat and put on their legislative hat in order to serve the highest good, through the greatest number of people, while considering the most marginalized groups in the community. As I continue to pursue the community’s best interests, I made the promise to be fair and balanced while working to close the gap between our ideals and our reality. Without closing these gaps, it will be much harder to reach our ideals. Also, as an elected official, I understand the importance of acknowledging criticisms and feedback, and of channeling them into actions that reflect the public’s best interests. But, without unity, it is unlikely that we will succeed as a community in promoting our progressive ideals.

Ultimately, our progressive values can only be achieved once we can show each other compassion and humility. We must stand together, unwavering in the fight for social justice and human rights. Alone, we are but a single thread of a spider web, vulnerable even to a mere breeze: Together we are invincible, primed to accomplish the ideals of a better, fairer and more equal world.

Junie Joseph is a member of the Boulder City Council and is mayor pro tem.

blog comments powered by Disqus