I've lived long enough to see respect for individual rights and hope for positive change for all to actually find a balance ----- for a moment, at least. Then the loud, insistent yell of special interests eroded that moment and in a matter of just a few voting cycles, pretty much anything goes now in that late great state.
Here, Caruthersville can be seen as a microcosm of California. We have loses to our economy, high unemployment, high poverty rates, blacks, whites, and Hispanics, churches galore, and public social services. I have noticed that people do build bridges between the various groups and churches to effectively serve the community where local government cannot but we need more than that. We need job skills and training. We need industry and retail merchants. We need to imagine a more beautiful Caruthersville, take advantage of our ideally suited location for arts, music, and a boardwalk of shops that draw in out of town visitors.
I know I've been here less than a year and many of you might tsk-tsk me, conceding to past disappointments. But the things I listed above are what gives hope to a community, and even better, unify a community. Personally, I think the economic downward spiral is as bad, if not worse, than the tornado of '06. Yes, that tornado caused instant and devastating damage to families (some of who I know now) and business and the greater community, but, the long, sustained, quiet, insidious downward pull of the local economy is a community killer. Willing and creative minds need to go out in the world and push for what we need, what our entire community needs.
So, ask yourself, how do you view the past recent years? How have you been affected personally; what about your neighbors? How often have you felt the sting of neglect because maybe you didn't live in the "right" neighborhood? Based on what I've seen and heard since moving here, I think even some of our own city leaders can testify to that question and what that sting may feel like.
When I lived in California I was accused of having an island mentality. It took a lot to get me out of Turlock. I had everything I needed there and more. Coming here, I learned right away I had to throw off that kind of thinking but, you know, it's just not that easy and I'm darn near paralyzed when it comes to driving beyond Hayti. Me. Driving. Alone. I think when Wal-Mart closed many of you, especially the elderly and impoverished, felt stranded, too. Well, you WERE and more than a year has passed since its closing and nothing has happened - absolutely zero. In fact, Absolute Zero's definition should be extended to include a before and after of C'ville, with the closing of Wal-Mart.
So, come April 3rd, VOTE. Vote for yourself, vote for your neighbors. Vote for your community. Take the long view. We can build something and all we need is effective leadership from the top down. We need unity, communication, and most of all, we need WILL. If you think there is even the remotest possibility of not voting on April 3rd, vote absentee. Go to the courthouse. The last day you can vote absentee is Monday, April 2nd. Don't think your preferred candidate will win without your vote. That is how candidates lose elections. The voting population here is small. Your vote can't get lost in a sea of numbers here.
So, to borrow a Nike ad line:
"Just Do It!"