LOU MARTINEZ: Changes best accomplished by man (person) in mirror

2014-03-09T00:00:00Z LOU MARTINEZ: Changes best accomplished by man (person) in mirrorBy Lou Martinez president of Lake Area United Way nwitimes.com

When confronted with this question many local issues came to mind: education, health and mental health, economic development/jobs, race relations, balkanization, rail/bus expansion, Gary/Chicago International Airport, Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority reauthorization, to name but a few. We all have a stake in these issues and we need to turn them into opportunities if we are to build a better NWI.

Accept responsibility

As we look at this menu of issues most residents do not feel empowered to help drive them to development. Most feel “the powers that be” are responsible, and accept the fact that they will, or will not, make them happen. And there is comfort in feeling this powerlessness because we don’t have to do anything but sit back, see what happens and perhaps lay blame. So the question becomes, I guess, what can we all do to build a better Northwest Indiana? How can each one of us make a difference?

Those questions drive me to the Michael Jackson hit song “Man in the Mirror” which asks us to treat our fellow man better. That’s something we all can do, that’s something we all should do. That’s something that would make this a better place. Let’s help each other out. Let’s take care of one another.

Be civil, develop trust

What’s wrong with giving the benefit of the doubt or turning the other cheek? Civil discourse seems to have lost its place and we need to find and value its return.

And in that discourse we should strive to be open, honest and transparent. It’s been my experience that what we lack most throughout our community is trust. We have a hard time trusting one another, we have a hard time believing one another. With so many issues and so much work yet to be done, we can ill afford to continue with this lack of trust. It just slows us down and holds us back.

Take pride in community

I also believe we all can and should take pride in our community, speak well of it, champion it! Our assets are many: diversity of people with rich heritage and cultures, proximity to Chicago, fresh water via Lake Michigan, strong business and industry, vibrant educational facilities, solid infrastructure, and much more. We have it all and we should appreciate it all. We should continue to remind folks of the beauty of living and working in NWI. Look on any map and you will see that NWI is indeed The Right Side of Chicago.

Be a participant

The other thing we all can do and should do is vote. Participate in the process. Voice our opinion. Show our concern for our community. Demonstrate that we care and are concerned.

These aren’t tough things to do, simple really. Doesn’t take a lot. Just requires us to do them. But if we all did them and continued to do them I’m certain it would lead to the promise of building a better community. I believe that’s what we all want and what we’d like to have.

It’s like Michael sang: If you wanna make the world (NWI)

A better place

Take a look at yourself

Then make a change.

Lou Martinez is executive director of Lake Area United Way. The opinions are the writer's.

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