Eric Woodyard, Deseret News
Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller was presented with the Rosa Parks Award at the 34th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Luncheon in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.

Utah business leader and philanthropist Gail Miller was recently given a much-deserved honor — the Rosa Parks Award presented by the NAACP Salt Lake Branch at the 34th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. luncheon.

In her acceptance speech, Gail said that as she learned about Rosa Parks’ life, she was impressed with her drive and devotion to do what she thought was right.

She said she thought Rosa Parks’ attitude could be summed up in two words: “I can.” Gail then challenged each of us to use “I can” as a motto in our own lives: I can get involved. I can love. I can provide service. I can speak up. I can make a difference. She ended by elevating the “I can” attitude even higher: “I can change the world.”

It was a powerful speech by a powerful leader. As we face the challenges and opportunities of a new year, we each could benefit by adopting the mindset of Rosa Parks and Gail Miller: “I can.”

I can be a great father or mother.

I can be a great neighbor.

I can be a great member of my church, service club or civic organization.

I can be a great employee.

I can start a great small business.

I can save for retirement.

I can get out of debt.

One might question: How can one person saying “I can” possibly change the world? The answer is that a firm, committed “I can” attitude is contagious and inspirational. One “I can” leads to another and another and another. Pretty soon, an army of “I can” people is mobilized for action.

This motto can be applied to the problems that must be faced collaboratively, through organized efforts and, in some cases, with the help of government.

Earlier this week, the Utah Legislature began its 2018 session. Many issues our part-time lawmakers face will require an “I can” attitude. Fortunately, most of our state legislators, their leaders and other state officials, such as Gov. Gary Herbert, bring an “I can” attitude with them into the session.

The state faces some big, important issues.

As a state legislator, I can (with my colleagues) reform Utah’s tax structure to ensure fairness to businesses and individuals, to keep taxes low, while providing sufficient revenue for important public purposes.

I can support legislation to improve Utah’s air quality.

I can provide a framework for good health care, with health insurance that protects children and families.

I can take steps to ensure future generations of Utahns have adequate water.

I can work to preserve open space in urban areas as Utah’s population grows rapidly.

I can help provide services to help those who are homeless or suffer addiction or severe mental health challenges. I can make changes to reduce opioid addiction.

I can help maintain good mobility in Utah, reducing highway congestion and planning for dramatic technological changes in transportation.

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I can help communities with housing affordability so young families can stay in Utah and not be priced out of the housing market.

I can help Utah become the country’s No. 1 state for education, ensuring that our young people can find good jobs that support a family in a fast-changing, high-tech economy.

I am confident that with the can-do attitude of our lawmakers, we can solve the problems that face our state. We are lucky to have leaders with an “I can” attitude. Like Gail Miller, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., they are, in fact, changing the world.