About 20 years ago, a nonprofit group wanted to help a community that had a high rate of 911 calls. The prevailing belief was that the neighborhood was dangerous because it was dark outside of people’s homes. The obvious was that the darkness concealed criminal activity. The assumption was that the people wanted it that way. It was after the nonprofit group started going door to door getting to know the community members, they learned that people simply could not afford light bulbs for outside their homes. The residents and group members worked together to find a solution and make a plan. A local hardware store agreed to donate light bulbs. They scheduled a community barbecue and lighting ceremony. The event was named Take Back the Light. As darkness settled, the lights came on, the music played, and the food was served. Neighbors connected and the lights never shone brighter. No political parties were involved. No candidates ran on the promise of free light bulbs. There was no voting and certainly no presidents attended.
There is something important we can learn from Take Back the Light, especially in our current circumstances.After any election, it is imperative to remember that our duty as citizens and community members does not end at the ballot box. No matter who we supported or voted for, we need to continue to make our voices heard, hold our elected officials accountable and press on the issues that are important to us. While elected officials have a great deal of power—whether they are members of Congress, state or local legislators, Governors, Mayors or Presidents—in a democracy, the people also have collective power to hold our government and elected officials accountable for the decisions they make and the issues they tackle. It is up to us to “take back the light.” From something as simple as donating a light bulb, picking up trash, showing kindness, to leaving everywhere we go better than we found it, we are the real difference makers. Even more than how we vote (and voting is so important), it is what we DO.
If you ran for office this election and won, please know we are counting on you to make a difference for our community. We are counting on you to communicate to us what we can do to support and help. Whether we individually voted for you or not, whether you are a democrat or a republican, we are depending on you to be who you promised. It is your time to make your mark. Here is your chance to make a difference in the world! How do you do that? Do everything you can to make our community healthier, more peaceful, and more loving. We will link arms with you and do our part as well.
May we dedicate ourselves to lighting up our corner of the world. If we do that, the world will never be the same. Let’s take back the light in Hampton County!
Previously Published in the Hampton County Guardian Augusta Chronicle USA Today Network.
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