BROWNSVILLE, RGV – New Year’s Eve is a time of wishes and blessings, of special, heart-felt prayer for those who are suffering, and a shared yearning for true peace.

In the Rio Grande Valley, families will gather and, in the midst of sharing food and drink, fireworks and music, look with hope toward the New Year. Maybe, we think, we pray, this year my dad’s job will hold steady, maybe, this year, mom’s diabetes will stay in check. Maybe, this year, no one gets deported, everyone gets paid what they are due and on time, and the cuates graduate from high school.

Blessings and wishes are good things, and the time taken to offer them is precious. The members of the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network join with our neighbors and friends in offering up heartfelt prayer for a prosperous year, and a good year. We pray particularly for those for whom prosperity has never been experienced, for those whose definition of “good” is something along the lines of a close-call, as in “Yay! I managed to plug the leak in the radiator” (as that is the only car that the family owns, and there is no bus service to their part of the Valley) or as in “Whew! we only got and inch and a half of rain yesterday” (since with two inches of rain the neighborhood always floods).

New Year’s Eve is also a time of resolutions, of compromisos, and that is a good thing as well. Most of us, while with deep respect for the possibilities of miracles, know that our families can’t sit around and wait for good luck to happen. Any change that is going to occur will happen because we work to bring it about.

On this occasion of a New Year, the Equal Voice Network invites all families in the region to commit to becoming a part of the change that is our due as human beings. This commitment to change is seen most clearly in the responsible exercise of the vote. “Responsible” is the key element here, as that implies that, not only will I vote, but that I will encourage everyone I know to do so. “Responsible vote” means not only getting out the vote, but engaging those who are running for office – finding out who they are, understanding the platform they are running on, and then holding them accountable for their promises.

This sort of pledge would be a new thing for so many of us – most of us do not vote. Pledging to become a responsible voter, however, is perhaps the finest blessing one could offer the family and the community. Our vote is our voice – and, at the end of the day, while we may not be rich and powerful on our own, collectively, we are many, and the vote is the way that we express, together, our conviction that our children deserve better, that our neighborhoods deserve better, that we deserve better.

Happy New Year – y que sea un año verdaderamente prospero para todos y todas.

Michael Seifert is network weaver for the RGV Equal Voice Network.