I would like to start by saying I love the energy many of our community leaders bring to making the lives of everyone in Dane County better. Their desire to make the lives of middle-class families in Wisconsin better is unmatched across much of the country! I hate saying this but the conversation has to move further and faster. Our community is a family. Our interactions, our politics, our place in society is a family discussion.

The quality of this discussion has atrophied. Once upon a time new ideas were brought into being by the interplay between a healthy right of center and a healthy left of center. Both are ailing, but this is beside the point. In Dane County we have moved past the dichotomies of the past. If this crisis has taught us anything, there can be no us versus them. We are all in this together. We need our community, and even when we feel lost or betrayed, we cannot forget that we are not alone, and that those we see as the opposition are just as scared and lonely as we are.

I have seen desperation lately. We are fighting each other over who is more correct, and we have decided that we have only ourselves and our small community to depend on. We see each other not as brethren but as either with us or our enemy. There is no discussion anymore, no interplay of ideas, and if we are going to make it through this time together, we have to start listening to each other. We must fight one another in the battle of ideas lest we come to real blows. This conversation is dead as external forces to inspire our community to take on new solutions to age-old problems are dying. This dialogue should now come from within.

We are going to disagree with each other, and that is alright. Homogeneity does not exist in our world. We are different, each of us having different experiences and pains. But we are a community, and if I have learned one thing, we are better together than we are apart. I have seen this community grow, and I have seen the support that we have given to each other. We will not always agree, and that is okay. Let our disagreements play out in the public arena and gather people to the issues that bind us, that divide us. We might hear new ideas that we like. It is a disservice to the public, to ourselves, to the community and to the nation when these disagreements are quashed.

Right now, I am sure many of you have great ideas for how to improve our community and unfortunately our system tends to silence newcomers to the debate. This debate does not have to be political. We are stronger together. We are better than our differences, and we can and must change how we think about our brethren. I see this in our group. I see this in our crisis. While there are some who say we can only rely on those who think like us, I have seen that that is not the case. We are neighbors, and we are better together. When we do not challenge ourselves, when we do not challenge each other, we start to feel lonely and cut off from the world. It is not easy looking within, and it is not easy challenging ourselves, but we can always do better. The lack of challenge from an outside source has led us to become complacent in our fight to capture the hearts and minds of our community. We must fight against stagnation. We must fight against complacency. This begins with challenging even those we admire most to be better, to embrace new ideas, to embrace a new beginning. Even if it means passing the torch to the next generation and stepping aside.

Our future must be shared together or we as a democracy will die together. We must see that our differences do not define us. A house divided cannot stand. And when we put ourselves into categories, when we start to think that our neighbors are not there for us, we aid and abet this division preying on it for short sighted gains. We need to move back to a shared reality. We need to begin to fight real problems again. We as a society must give everyone the chance to be the best that we can be, to do what we want to do and to live and work wherever we desire. This will mean change, but working together, anything is possible. A new generation is rising up to tackle the challenges of today, but that is not enough. We must never again become complacent. Some may tackle the challenges of today and yesterday. We must look to the horizon, and recognize that clouds are looming. We can be the light that pierces those clouds. A beacon shining the light toward that shared destiny that only we can make working together. We live in the world we choose to build. Let us build an even better one. We must never be content with enjoying today's small victories. Not until everyone is given their dignity back can we even dream of resting. That is what I stand for and what we should all strive for. And I know that it is possible. I see that hope in all of you. I see that we recognize our shared dignity, and while some will say that we have to be political to do this, I do not see that to be the case.

If I have learned one thing from this crisis, from this community, we all need help. We all need love, and compassion, and to recognize that we are not the same, but that we are all human. I share this with all of you now, because I appreciate you. I know that some of us struggle more than others during this crisis. I know that the economically disadvantaged and the minority members of our society are taking this crisis a lot harder than some of us, than me, and I know that it is sometimes hard to see outside our own bubble, but I see you. I appreciate you all for all you do, and while we do not always understand what each other is going through, I know that we are willing to listen. I am willing to listen.

New Problems require New Vision. We need leaders who never rest. Never stopping looking over the horizon. A leader never content with their own work always striving for new solutions. We must never fear making mistakes along the way and answering for them. We must not be afraid to ask for guidance. It is we the people who must stand together again. We are better than our differences, and I can see that it is easy to blame others for the problems of the world, but even when there is a guilty party, we cannot let that turn us off from the community. We cannot let ourselves give up hope and turn to cynicism. I see that hope in all of you. I see the hope for our future. There is no politics, there is only us. We are not Democrat or Republican, Socialist or Capitalist. We are human. We are community. We are that ray of light shining through to our future. We are hope. Here is to rebuilding OUR SHARED DESTINY.