By Marlon I. Brown
Robert Baden Powell, founder of the scouting movement, is often attributed with the quote that you should “try and leave this world a little better than you found it.” Though we all have different reasons for pursuing our chosen field, my personal vocation to a life of public service is rooted in this simple yet profound philosophy.
I have always had an interest in politics and government. I fondly recall skipping recess in the third grade so that I could watch the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. I can also think of numerous times when I would ask my parents to stay up late so that I could watch a state of the union address or some other important political event on television. Even at a young age, I sensed the importance of public service and recognized that those privileged to serve in government were positioned to make a significant difference in our communities, our nation, and our world.
My interests also grew as a result of my educational experiences. Attending a Jesuit High School challenged me to be a “Man for Others,” committed to my faith in God and working for the promotion of justice. Furthermore, attending college in Washington, D.C. afforded me opportunities to learn firsthand how our system of government works (and sometimes doesn’t work). These experiences led me to conclude that through public service, I could most effectively be of service to others.
Several years later, I am fortunate to serve in an elective office. As a council member in the City of Mason, Michigan, I am privileged to represent people from all walks of life who have entrusted me to make decisions for the betterment of our community.
Though, much of the news media focuses on international affairs or the often divisive politics of our federal government, I have come to realize that local government has an exceptional impact on our daily lives. Many of the things that make up the quality of life in a community – good police and fire services, attractive neighborhoods and parks, high performing schools, thriving local businesses, clean water, pothole-free roads, and snow removal (which is huge is Michigan) – all fall under local government.
As a local official, I help make decisions that impact the quality of life in my community for both present and future generations. Most of all, I get to be a voice for those who sometimes feel voiceless in our political system.
I constantly encourage individuals to pursue public service because it is truly a noble calling. Whether you decide to run for public office, volunteer on local boards and commissions, or simply advocate for issues that you feel are important, there are countless ways to serve. The most important thing is to find your passion and then use that as a motivating force to make a difference. That is ultimately how you leave the world a little better than you found it.
NOTE: Brown won a new term on the Mason City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 4.