To the 71st General Assembly of Illinois Youth and Government,
It has been an honor to serve as the 70th Youth Governor of the state of Illinois, and it has been an absolutely life changing experience. Participating over the last three years in Youth and Government has been a formative experience for me, and like many participants, it has inspired me to make my commitment to government and advocacy a lifelong one.
Reflecting on my experiences within Youth and Government has reminded me of an FDR quotation that sums up the lessons of Youth and Gov very nicely: “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us”. The awesome responsibility with which to impart the fundamental lessons of civic engagement and representative democracy are entrusted to Youth and Government, and it is with a happy heart that I acknowledge that every Youth Governor, myself included, is a very small part of this great tradition that spans back to Adlai E Stevenson’s time as the Governor of Illinois, and with any luck, will span on far into the future.
The current political climate in our state and in our country is one characterized by fear. The trust in the stability and protection of governments worldwide have been questioned by the problems of the modern day. It is my firm belief that this program is instrumental in developing that trust, and in producing active citizens who will work to ensure that trust is not misplaced.
Let me contribute what I can to the legacy of this program by offering a piece of advice: embrace nuance. The problems of modernity are not simple problems, and they certainly do not have simple solutions, despite what some political demagogues may imply. For success in Youth and Government and beyond, it is vital to accept that issues are extraordinarily complicated, and that nearly never does one person hold enough experience to fully grasp all of the complexities a topic may have. When we recognize that we must listen to others, and must accept the incredible multifaceted nature of democracy, everyone will be lifted up.
Youth and Government gives everyone a platform to speak, but we must make the choice to listen.