The Importance of Innovation

My sisters, Christine and Myjoshi, were two of the first leaders that I’ve ever met. Using the power of their imaginations, they lead not by barking orders, but by inspiring me to see the world the way that they did. When it was cold in our home and our gas was shut off, Christine and Myjoshi would go around the apartment and pull together blankets and brooms so we could play igloo. They would create a mighty fortitude of safety for me. When it was dark, because the electricity was shut off, they would go around finding old, half-dead batteries and flashlights so we could play flashlight tag. On one Thanksgiving, when we didn't have gas to use our stove, Christine gave my Dad our Easy Bake oven. Being a pastry chef, he constructed one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

My sisters used their imaginations to re-envision the world as it should be, not as it looked. The circumstances in which we lived required them to find the best of every situation. Like many in our district who struggle to make ends meet, they had the desire to build their surroundings into something more hopeful. Instead of Earthly possessions, what we had was a rich understanding that we were placed here on this earth to serve and to be of service to one another.

We need more leaders in Congress like my sisters when they were six and eleven years old. We cannot be afraid of innovation because it goes against tradition. Without reinventing formulas that have failed our communities over and over, we cannot expect them to suddenly work with new leadership. Like Christine and Myjoshi, we must take our surroundings and reimagine them. Like they pulled together blankets and brooms to form an igloo, we need to pull together the resources we have. Let’s amplify the organizations and community leaders that need the support to scale. By using the resources we know and understand, we can innovate towards real solutions.

Robert Emmons