Ode to Utah: Unleashing its potential

By Tiani Xochitl Coleman

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Dec. 28 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Utah’s potential can be realized.

Jordan Allred, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Chris Cannon had a lot of big ideas he dreamed of implementing to help our country. Bob Bennett was full of wisdom he was ready to entreat in a great meeting of the minds. But those big ideas and that wisdom got squashed in the name of defending liberty. Cannon and Bennett were told they couldn’t have those big ideas; they couldn’t use that wisdom. And so they retreated; they lost confidence; they began to lose their way.

Honest patriots who love our country even more than their own lives grew fearful. They began to cast blame and division. They insisted that Cannon and Bennett didn’t need any big ideas or wisdom; they just needed a set of liberty-loving principles to follow. But instead of pointing Cannon and Bennett to the living, breathing principles that inspired our founding documents, they made a rigid interpretation of those documents and called it the whole truth and the only truth. And then they put that interpretation on a banner, and put the documents in a sealed box, where they died.

And now as we find ourselves needing to confront our deepest, darkest, near impossible challenges, we think we can only wave a banner. We seem to no longer be able to find the living, breathing principles that inspired our sure foundation. Having nearly lost the profound meaning and purpose behind our principles, almost everyone has been blind to the corruption that has been brewing and is flourishing.

Utah is filled with unique and unrivaled potential waiting to be loosed to help save our country, our world. But first, we have to fully own up to our mistakes and get on a new path. It’s not enough to just blindly try to do better.

For real healing, the dominant political institution ought to make sincere amends for how it has treated the thorns in its side, those seen as enemies to the institution because they constantly prodded and pricked them, even offensively or wrongly at times, to do what is right. Thorns help us grow. Apologize for hurtfully stabbing them, cutting them off and letting them wander in dark paths.

Those in positions of authority are obligated to do more than avoid breaking the law. To be truly effective at defending the purist of principles and empowering the lives of those they serve, they ought to put a complete end to any and all conflicts of interest, and not allow money, influence, image or outward success, in any way, to guide their decisions and policies.

We the people need to be the salt of the earth and put in place the means whereby the best and the brightest are not repelled from serving their country but rather are drawn to the work because they see our eye is single to a just cause.

When we deeply value and encourage all different voices and walks of life to make a meaningful contribution, without demanding conformity, we’ll see the truth more clearly, and it will lead the way to real solutions. If we stumble, experience will give us understanding, empathy and convictions. When we own our principles, we don’t need an ideological banner to guide us; honestly holding to our sure foundation guarantees unparalleled growth.

Loving liberty cannot be in name only — it’s meaningless without the people we’re defending liberty for. Let’s always ask how a policy affects real people. People get lost when ignored and rebel when controlled; they want to be part of a consequential vision. So let’s be willing to make systemic change and drop ideas, programs and agendas that are doing more harm than good.

Utah’s potential can be realized. But we need unity, which means trust. Let’s be worthy of trust. When there’s trust, we can question, nudge and hold accountable our friends. And stand strong enough that our enemies will have no influence over us.

Tiani Xochitl Coleman is a mom, writer and political independent. A graduate of Cornell Law School, she’s a past chairwoman of the Salt Lake County Republican Party. She and her family recently relocated from Utah to Amherst, N.H.

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