I went to a meeting of the Caddo Education Foundation last night and was once again appalled by the poor attendance. I know people are busy, but I also know that we tend to make time for the activities that are important to us. Apparently there aren’t many people left in our little community who value the education of our children! Oh, that sounds harsh and judgmental. I didn’t even attend the last meeting because I got the date confused and marked it on the calendar incorrectly. However, I’ve been to enough of the meetings in the past to know that poor attendance has always been a problem and that having enough warm bodies for a quorum is rare. I’ve been to enough of the other civic meetings in Caddo to know there is a general “let someone else do it” attitude that is pervasive and destructive.
My kindergarten students are great at promising me they will behave and prove to me that they know our school rules. They brag at breakfast about what a great day they are going to have and how much work they are going to do. Some talk about the stickers they will earn for the day. But when they start talking in class later and bothering their classmates and running in the hall and fail to do their daily work, I have to remind them that talk is cheap. When I ask them if they know what they should have done, their answer is always affirmative and my reply is always “your behavior shows me otherwise”.
My response to adults who tell me that education and community improvements are important to them is pretty much the same as my response to my students. Don’t tell me, show me.
Years ago I went to a “town hall” meeting that was called in Caddo to discuss community problems and solutions. Officials from the state and from other communities offered ideas about soliciting tourists, making improvements in community government, beatification and other topics of interest. The room was packed, practically standing room only, for the first meeting and the two subsequent ones. A group of concerned citizens allied to work on specific issues. Within a year that group had split into two groups over “vision differences”. Two years later only one group remained and had dwindled in numbers to about ten people. They managed to continue working for several years and make some major differences in the community, but it was a struggle with so few members actively taking part.
I know people are busy with work and home and church and family, in whatever order you care to prioritize. But we also have to remember that the very foundation of where we work and worship is our community, and our children and their children will reap the consequences of what we do here, now, today, not later “when we find the time”. Community work, club work, committees, and civic duties often seem like one more burden and personality conflicts abound in groups. We don’t want to voluntarily take on more stress! But there is also strength in numbers, creativity in group thinking, and pride in a job well done, especially one that benefits others.
Recent events have shown that people have time and money to give others. Tragedies prompt us to take stock and make sacrifices. We see our blessings for what they are and we suddenly want to share them with those who are less fortunate. Yet, I have to ask why it is necessary for us to experience a disaster before we are awakened from our lethargy. There are opportunities in every community to make a difference every day in the life of someone in need. There are opportunities to build up our communities instead of complaining about their shortcomings. There are opportunities to join with others to make the future better for everyone!