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Tear down the walls that divide us

House Minority Leader Tim Miley, during Thursday’s Legislative Breakfast, I found interesting.

He encouraged the state’s elected officials, and, in fact, all residents, to be honest about the condition of West Virginia and where we need to go in order to grow and thrive.

“I think there is too much risk for us not to be honest about where we are,” Miley said, while addressing the media gathered for the annual event which traditionally marks the mid-point of the legislative session. “We need to identify a goal, we need to identify where we are, and then we need to identify the processes we need to meet our goal.”

Now, this could just have been one last bit of political bantering from an individual who has been among the top government officials in the state the last few years before he finishes up his time in office, but it also is something we all need to take some time on which to meditate.

Where do we want West Virginia to go? What do you want to see the Mountain State be in the next five year? 10 year? 25 years? What kind of state do you want future generations, say your grandchildren or great-grandchildren, have should they live here?

The problem has been, and continues to be, there is no unifying vision for the future. Whether culturally or politically, we have different ideas of what kind of state, county or community we want to have.

Should we base ourselves on traditional businesses, such as coal, manufacturing or farming, or should we reach out to look at new ideas, based on technology? Should we be rural or urban? Should we be red or blue?

Those differences, while held on to dearly by many, also can be the root of what is holding us back. We hold on to what has come before instead of looking to the possibility of change.

We gravitate to those we believe share the same beliefs as we have, even if the “other side” might have something that could work better.

We let the differences divide us instead of working together.

That especially can be seen when looking at our politics today. I don’t care if you are a Democrat or Republican. All too often, it become more important to focus on keeping the party in power instead of what would be beneficial to the people. Decisions are made based, not on what it really will do for those of us here at home, but what could be best for those in the so-called “seats of power.” There is a growing disconnect between the voters and the people elected to represent us, and it is doing all of us a disservice.

That is why we continue to be ranked so low in so many national categories.

We allow the divisions to continue instead of working to pull ourselves up. We let those who are elected to lead, make decisions that, all too often, help the few rather than the many.

That needs to stop, and stop soon.

West Virginia needs a unifying vision to work toward. Otherwise, we’re not going anywhere.

There are going to be some major decisions needed during the next 30 days, and throughout the remainder of the year. The legislators, governor and other top brass in the state have work they need to do.

We all have work ahead of us, because it cannot just be up to those we elect to make a difference.

Change can be painful. I haven’t always been a fan of certain changes myself, but they are needed in certain instances, especially when it comes to figuring out what can be best for us.

It’s not always best to continue doing the same thing if the same thing prevents us from moving forward in our lives or for our state.

We are all West Virginians and we have the power within us to make the changes we need for the future.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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