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Reflecting on our challenges and finding a way forward

Reflecting on this past week has been tough.

It started with losing a friend and colleague who was only 42 to a brain aneurysm. Just a heart-breaking message to get. That made our swearing-in day bittersweet. While it was an honor to take the oath of office, seeing Rep. Mike Reese’s desk draped in black cloth truly changed what we were all thinking. I know we all took a few minutes to reach out to our loved ones and, if we could, give our kids an extra hug.

I found myself ending this week trying to explain to my kids what happened at our nation’s Capitol. We talked about how violence is never the answer and better ways to resolve concerns and conflict. We also talked about how there are people in this country who want to see us divided, and we can’t let that happen. Divided we will fall.

Tragically, I found myself writing press releases that condemn violence.

I found myself mourning the lives lost and praying for our first responders caught in the middle.

I spent lots of time in prayer for a good friend on a ventilator fighting for his life.

While we all hoped that 2021 would be ringing in on a positive note, this week has shown us that the road is long and hard moving forward. One thing I believe could help is reaching out to a family member, friend or neighbor. Ask them how they are doing. Ask them if they need anything. These real relationships, that’s what formed this country, not social media. I have faith we will make it as a country, Commonwealth and community — one Nation under God.

Moving forward, we all must work together, or like I said, divided we will fall. That does not mean we will always agree, and that’s ok. After making and receiving dozens of phone calls this week, two from seniors stick out in my mind. One was from a person asking for common ground to work on prescription drug prices, and the other asking how they could help train the next generation about civics and civility. Both heartwarming and encouraging conversations with people from two different ends of the political spectrum about how we can move forward. We can’t shy away from the hard conversations, but there are more issues that unite us than divide us. We must stand up for what is True, Right and Just, but do it in a way that is civil and patriotic. That includes supporting our schools; agriculture; career and technical education; election integrity; getting rid of waste, fraud and abuse; and someday seeing COVID-19 in our rearview.

I know that for many it looks and feels impossible to move forward from here. But I think of our Founding Fathers and their faith that this holy experiment as a country would work. It has and it will. They gave us the Constitution to lean on and to guide us. And I’m more committed now than ever to doing my part to make that happen.

Will you join me?

Clint Owlett is a Republican member of the state House representing Tioga, Bradford and Potter counties.

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