A hundred years ago, Benjamin Disraeli, a conservative British statesman wrote, “Change is inevitable…change is constant.” Forty-five years ago, Sam Cooke wrote, “a change is gonna come.” Their words still ring true today. Whether you’re someone who welcomes change or becomes anxious in its wake, we are all affected by it. Here in the city of Springfield, a plethora of social, cultural, financial and political changes have become inevitable constants leaving us with two starkly different alternatives: to resolutely face them and persevere in navigating our way or to become overwhelmed, complain, and stubbornly resist their implications.
The choice we make will define both how successful we become and the legacy we will leave to those who follow us. This month, the Finance Control Board, instituted in the wake of our city’s financial instability and in the midst of a corruption probe, will complete its tenure and return the city back to local control. In addition, we are in the midst of a municipal election campaign where ward representation guarantees each segment of the city a voice on both the city council and school committee. The time has come for a new generation of leaders to lead the way in proclaiming that “business as usual” is no longer an option.
These leaders will face a moral imperative to ensure that all of our citizens – regardless of their race, their home language or family income level – enjoy a decent quality of life and are provided excellent educational and employment opportunities. They must aggressively embrace the notion that every citizen deserves to reach his/her full potential.
Committing to the “status quo” in light of the challenges that face us is no longer tenable, nor is it desirable. If we intend to genuinely provide a quality life for all, we will need to take bold steps to ensure the success of all of our citizens – no exceptions, no excuses. These actions will involve many changes. Some of these will be welcomed, and other changes will be difficult for some to accept particularly those for whom the existing practices and policies have served so well.
Springfield should expect many changes over the coming months –from probable changes in city leadership to potential efforts to promote balance and equity. With all of this in mind, we must pay attention to the issues and not be so simple that we will vote for someone based on political expediency. Springfield can’t afford elected leaders who will tell us what we want to hear. We need leaders that will speak the truth, even if it rubs some of us the wrong way. We need leaders that can admit it when they make mistakes and that are big enough to try and make it right when they should. Springfield does not deserve politics as usual; Springfield deserves change.