Now that I am serving a stint on the City Council I am already learning what I don’t know about many things. Like most new ventures in my life I am sure I will have a vertical learning curve, but that is alright. We can’t hide out from new challenges and in the process of stretching ourselves we might be surprised at what we learn. I think about my Grandfather who homesteaded and started farming and ranching when he was almost forty years old. It wasn’t easy but in the end he felt very good about what he had accomplished.
As I listened to presenters at a committee meeting recently I was taken at how much keeping a community running is much like owning your home and keeping it in working condition. One community member expressed a concern about the new city parking lot and the need to tend to the details to keep it looking good so that it will last a long time. I thought immediately of how true this way whether we own a home or a vehicle. We want to keep it in good shape. Items are painted or polished and sometimes we are very protective of our personal property. Maybe our community would be in better shape if everyone thought of it as the larger home in which we live.
Picking up a piece of trash and throwing it into the closest trash bin is not a big deal. Cleaning up the weeds in our yard or along the alley isn’t huge if we don’t let it get out of hand in the first place. Much of what the city council does is keep our larger home a good place to put our smaller homes. One council person mentioned the city wouldn’t have to pass so many ordinances for upkeep and safety if everyone took responsibility for their property and their actions.
I think it all goes back again to that notion of pride in who and what we are and it has to be a personal pride. When I was growing up one of the things my folks usually said to me as I went out the door was, “Now remember who you are. You’ve been given a good name, a name to be proud of and it is up to you to keep it that way.” The same worked when I was teaching at the high school. Whenever we took kids out of town on athletic trips or other trips the students were always reminded that Dawson County High School had a good reputation and we wanted to keep it that way. When a letter from a motel owner appeared in the local paper congratulating our kids on their behavior and inviting us back again we swelled with pride. A good name is worth polishing once in awhile.
As I drive around town in the summertime I see volunteers mowing lawns and tending to flowers at local churches. It is a community of common faith. We want to be proud of where we worship. We believe God created the beauty we see around us and we are called to keep that creation in good order.
For centuries human beings have gathered in community. A workplace, a school district, a church congregation, a community is a place where people with common goals come together to live and work together. There are many little communities within the larger one of a town or city, and we all have been given a community to live in and care for and like a family we want to be proud of where we come from and we want our community to have a good name and that takes some work for all of us.