State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha greeted the legislature with those words, adding, “As I was saying before I was quite rudely interrupted by term limits, there are some things I want to say and get into the record.”
Chambers served in the Unicameral for 38 years before term limits forced him to sit out a four-year term.
Chambers offered a philosophical address to lawmakers Monday. He noted that the Bible ascribes to humans 70 years of life. Noting that he had turned 75, Chambers said he was on borrowed time.
“The fact that you reach a certain age does not mean that you have to shrivel up, dry out, vegetate or go away or blow away,” Chambers stated. “As long as you have breath in your body, your mind is clear, continue to live, literally, until you die.”
Chambers instructed new members of the legislature they have an obligation to participate.
“When we have a thought and we think we should express it, this is the place to do it,” according to Chambers. “We show our respect for the legislature as an institution by actively participating.”
Yet, in the expression, lawmakers must take pains to speak plainly.
“Words sometimes substitute for action,” Chambers said. “All that we deal with are words and they should be well thought out, well-spoken to the extent that we can do that. When that does not happen, the remainder of us have an obligation to help clarify and make definite to the public what it is we mean and what we’re trying to say.”
Chambers advised lawmakers to develop thick skins and not be easily offended during debate.
AUDIO: Sen. Ernie Chambers urges fellow lawmakers to participate during legislative session. [5 min.]