Being brave is hard. It takes a willingness to be uncomfortable. Real love requires bravery though. It’s how we get to the good stuff. It’s how we connect when times are tough. Our willingness to sit in discomfort, ask the hard questions, hear the hard answers, all of it, that’s love at its best.
Last week our governor proposed a budget that is not rooted in bravery and having the hard conversations. Instead, he proposed a budget rooted in an utter disregard for the people of this state, a disregard for our lives, our cultures, our education and our fierce, determined spirit. He proposed a budget that is nothing less than an assault on rural Alaska and on the future of Alaska’s children. He proposed a budget that pits us against each other in hopes that we don’t come together for the greater good.
Courage is an act of love. Alaska — we have no love at the top. A courageous budget built with love for our state would address revenue. A courageous budget would propose an income tax. A courageous budget would propose an honest and real look at our Permanent Fund and how it can be part of the solution for all of Alaska. A budget built on love would insist that the oil companies give back to the state they take so much from.
In the press conference the day he unveiled his budget, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Alaskans need to make sacrifices in order to solve the state’s fiscal crisis. Among the many sacrifices he asked us to make, the governor is asking that we sacrifice our future by dumbing down our population through the gutting of all levels of public education in our state. This is not courageous. This is not visionary. This is not love. Yet, he’s right. We do need to make sacrifices. I am ready to pay a progressive income tax and sacrifice my PFD in order to support this state I love so deeply.
In that same press conference, when asked if people should consider moving out of state, the governor’s response was that this would have to be a choice people make on their own. These are not the words of a visionary leader that cares about the growth and betterment of our state. These are the words of a man who didn’t stop to think about the humans in the numbers and how these cuts would impact each of us.
Alaskans, our governor is not a courageous leader willing to make hard decisions grounded in a love for this place. That means we have to. Write your legislators. Call your legislators. Come to Juneau and meet with your legislators. Tell them we need to have the hard talks about revenue. It’s scary and it’s intimidating and still — your state needs you. A Legislature willing to work together is the only way out of this mess and in order for that to happen, they need to hear from you.
I love this state and I refuse to sit back and watch it destroyed by people who clearly don’t have the same definition of love as I do. If you love Alaska too, and I think you do, it’s time to show up with your whole heart and remember that there is no courage without fear. You are afraid. I am too. Show up anyway. You are struggling to find the words. I am too. Show up anyway. You are angry. I am too. Show up anyway. Showing up is an act of love and our state needs our love right now. I promise to keep showing up because I love this place. I know you do too. Let’s show up together. Our state needs us.
• Jorden Nigro grew up in rural Alaska and is a 20-year resident of Juneau. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.