New Year 2021

‘We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.’

John Dewey

Before we finally close the door on 2020, we should take a moment to reflect on the year.

We need to remember all those we lost this past year. Whether from COVID, or cancer, or heart disease, or stroke, or violence, or other diseases and natural causes, we have lost far too many people.

We need to remember all we have learned in 2020. 

We always knew that our first responders and health professionals were essential, we now know that delivery drivers, pharmacists, grocery store workers, janitors, truckers, and so many others are the ones who kept us healthy, clothed, fed, and secure.

We learned that teachers are even more remarkable than we ever gave them credit for.  They pivoted on a dime from in school to virtual learning to hybrid and every combination thereof.  They created new lessons, found new ways to engage and interact, and keep children curious and educated.

We managed to live without sports and entertainment and found new ways to connect with family, friends, nature, and our communities.

We saw a successful return to space through private company launching from American soil.

We managed to safely and successfully fast-track a vaccine to change the course of this pandemic and bring a sense of normalcy back to our chaotic world.

There have been other medical advances that have improved the lives of patients around the country and around the world.  We must continue to invest in research to ensure this momentum continues.

As we welcome in 2021, I remain hopeful and optimistic that we can take these tough learned lessons and create a better tomorrow.

That we learn to be respectful and civil to our neighbors and fellow countrymen.  We do not have to agree with each other, but we do have to live together.  Our differences should not divide us, but provide opportunities to collaborate and to improve.  We all want a better world for our children and for each other. Kindness does not take an additional effort but makes a huge difference in how we interact.

We need to continue to remain engaged in politics and policy, to stand up for what we believe in, and to vote those beliefs.  Individualism remains much more important than party loyalty.  We need to continue to improve the processes to make it easier and more secure for everyone to cast their ballot.  Government works best when ALL voices are heard.

We have learned how important our health is and access to care.  It is time we put aside the politics and find a way to ensure everyone has consistent access to quality, affordable care.  No one should have to choose between medicine and food, or choosing between losing their home or losing their child. 

We must continue to fight for equity and equality across the country.  Our ‘freedoms’ are meaningless if they’re not applied equally.  As good citizens, we have a responsibility to ourselves and our country to do better.

Finally, we must prioritize education and ensure that truth and facts are the basis of our national discourse.  We need to encourage investment in science and technology, not just to improve medical outcomes, but to ensure our assets are protected in ever-increasingly connected digital world. 

If we can launch a rocket to space, we should be able to do so many simpler, yet important, things.  We just have to put our collective minds and efforts behind it.

Thank you for the friendship, the debate, the support, and the commentary.  Whether we agree or not, my life is richer for each and every one of you.

My wish, as always, is for a healthy and happy New Year to you and your families.

My comments to the Elk Grove Village Board about Tobacco 21

There is a preponderance of scientific and medical evidence as to why tobacco products are dangerous to those who use them and those who are around them

Mayor Johnston, Village Trustees, my fellow residents; Good afternoon.
My name is Scott Saxe, and I’ve been a resident of Elk Grove Village for over 17 years.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today regarding Tobacco 21.
While there is a preponderance of scientific and medical evidence as to why tobacco products are dangerous to those who use them and those who are around them, I’ll leave that topic to the medical and scientific professionals in the room.
Throughout this community, there are signs welcoming people to The Village and declaring ourselves to be “The Exceptional Community”. At each of our schools, there are banners stating that ‘Character counts’.
I’d like to focus on those 2 things.
Exceptional is defined as ‘better than average’ or ‘deviating from the norm’.
Character is ‘one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual’.
What makes us exceptional is not just the lower taxes, the quality schools, the bike paths, public services, park districts, and business friendly atmosphere. What makes us exceptional are the people. The residents who live here, the businesses that employ here, and those who visit here. What makes us exceptional is leadership that fosters a community of inclusiveness, of character, and of healthy lifestyles.
We are exceptional in many ways in comparison to surrounding communities, and in the fact that we are considering raising the age on tobacco products from 18 to 21. Putting public health first, especially the health of our school age children, is a measure of good leadership and community responsibility.
There are those who will argue about the impact on local businesses and the reductions of personal freedoms. It is true that we all want to support businesses in the community and see them thrive, but they’ve already seen diminished tobacco sales due to lower tax rates in DuPage County.
There is a disparity between Counties on many levels, as there are between communities. In Elk Grove, we recognize that, and embrace it.
Status quo is not what we strive for in Elk Grove Village. We deviate from the norm; we are better than average; we are exceptional.
Another argument is around personal freedom and choice. While we do live in a free society, we are a society governed by laws. This set of rules is what establishes and maintains a community. As a community, we owe it to ourselves and to each other, to promote an environment of public health and public safety.
I can appreciate Trustee Franke’s position on overreach, but Jefferson himself said “The purpose of government is to enable the people of a nation to live in safety and happiness.”
Smoking may be an individual choice, but the effects of smoking affect not just the smokers, but all those around them. When individual decisions impact public health and safety, we must act.
While that may not be a popular position among all here today, it does show character. What makes us exceptional is not ignoring a problem, but tackling it head on. What shows our character is standing by those exceptional ideals, even when it’s not popular.
We owe it to the very students we’re trying to teach character to, to set the example. If we cannot lead by example today, what type of education are we giving the leaders of tomorrow?
In 2007, Elk Grove Village took the lead before the State of Illinois banned smoking in public places, and enacted a ban of its own.
That showed character.
We must show that same character today, and ensure that Elk Grove Village remains committed to being exceptional in health services for our residents.
None of us like being told what we can or cannot do. We do, however, have a responsibility to our community; the exceptional community.
As Lincoln reminded us years ago:
“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but can not do at all, or can not so well do, for themselves – in their separate, and individual capacities.”
Thank you for your time and consideration.
I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you, work with you, and continue to make Elk Grove Village exceptional.
Have a wonderful day.