Calm Down

Sept. 30, 2009

Letís all just take a time out and a breather, shall we?
†† I have been watching with ever-increasing dismay the squabbling thatís happening in this town. I think we all need to step back and take a really long, hard look at ourselves.
†† Good, hard-working, civic-minded people have succumbed to arguing and fighting with imagined adversaries. One civic group is hacked off at another, and vice versa. Even within some groups, the tension between individuals is so obvious you could cut it with a knife.
†† There has been more community involvement this year than Iíve seen in decades. What sometimes happens, I guess, when people get high on a roll, differences of opinion, little annoyances and petty grievances get blown way out of proportion and we lose sight of what is really important: The project or cause we set out to nurture.
†† So intense have some of our disagreements become, word has filtered all the way to the east end of St. Mary Parish. So adversarial have we sometimes become theyíre shaking their heads and wondering, ďWhy canít they all just get along?Ē
†† I am, too.
†† We all have gotten involved with projects in our community to make a difference. To grow west St. Mary and Franklin, to create something here that never existed before. To show visitors what a proud and friendly community we are, how much we have going for us, how lucky we are to be who we are and where we are. Do we believe that about ourselves, or donít we?
†† As human beings, weíre susceptible for ego, hurt feelings, jealousies, and indignation. Weíre only human. But what we need to do is focus on the project weíve taken on. Make it the best it can possibly be and stop worrying about whoís doing whatever elsewhere. Itís counterproductive. If we canít get along within our own groups, we need to be democratic and find compromises.
†† Word reaches my ears that some of the farmerís market people donít think weíre doing enough here at the newspaper to promote the event. I could be cocky about that, point fingers and cop an attitude. But Iím better than that. Iíll say weíve supported the farmerís market as much or more than we have any other major civic event in the area, all for free. Weíre willing to do more, with cooperation from the organizers, which has been happening. It goes both ways. See? Compromise and cooperation.
†† So, what you doing, Stouff, besides sitting on your duff writing columns? Well, thatís a fair question. You gotta practice what you preach, right? Fair enough. In fact, Iíve probably stretched myself too thin, and am not doing any of my concerns as much good as I could be, especially with my work schedule and all those silly government meetings I gotta cover evenings. But yeah, besides continued efforts with the Techeland Arts Council and our massive, exciting project in bringing the oral and traditional folk history of Franklin to the stage by next fall, Iíve been busy. Iíve volunteered for and was appointed by the Chitimacha Tribal Council to the state legislative committee that will attempt to restore Lake Fausse Point and Grand Avoille Cove. Think thatís going to be an easy, armchair event? I volunteered for not one but three sub-committees of the tourism enhancement group spearheaded by the city and the tourist commission, working on interpretive trails, Bayou Teche Scenic By-way development and our place as a parish in the Atchafalaya Heritage Area. Plus, Iím helping put together a wooden boat show for the Bear Festival next spring.
†† What Iím also doing is focusing on what Iíve chosen to take on, and encouraging Ė make that, cheering for Ė the other groups who are also doing things to enhance this fine community we live in.
†† So come on, good people. Letís all take a deep breath and put aside our differences. We all want the same thing, donít we? The specifics may differ, but donít forget: The devil is in the details. Letís not get mired down in them.
†† What we all want here is a prosperous, clean, safe, beautiful west St. Mary Parish. A place our kids will want to stay in, work in, grow old in. A place that visitors will experience and tell everyone they know what a great place this is.
†† If we achieve that, weíll have performed a small miracle, make no mistake about it. But we can do. We just have to keep trying, and quit fussing.
†† Despite the little squabbles, I am truthfully so proud of you all.