This I Believe

Marybeth - Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Entered on August 9, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in Louisiana and the motto on her state flag, which is a succinct and inspiring road map for living. That motto is union, justice, confidence.

I was seduced by this place when I moved here eleven years ago. Louisiana is a place of characters, of people who live large in spirit and soul. It is a place where flowers bloom year round, where water and land come together like a Monet masterpiece, a place where greens and blues are constant visual companions. Things flow through this place literally and figuratively, whether it is the water flowing south on the Mississippi, the oil flowing north to help power the rest of the country, the generous nature of natives, or the birds that stream through here by the millions in fall and spring.

I believe in Louisiana, not because it is perfect, but because of its big heart, conflicted soul, stunning beauty, and struggle to be better.

Things aren’t fair here and they never have been; I suspect it’s that way all over this country. Here in Louisiana, just as people live high beamed and full frontal with their hearts, minds, and souls, social problems present themselves with just as much vigor.

When confronted with such multifaceted issues, many people might shrink away. And yet, most people that I know in Louisiana don’t. We work together to fight, scheme, and doggedly pursue the confluence of money, resolve, and community action to eliminate the isms that result in Louisiana topping many of the bad lists and bottoming many of the good ones. This is true of the students I teach, the friends that I have, and the communities with which I work. This is true of people all over this state, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, age, or hurricane impact status.

Life in Louisiana has taught me that it’s better to have your eyes and heart wide open so that you can see, think, and do. Life in Louisiana has taught me that success is not about the ultimate outcome of a journey or struggle, it’s about navigating that process. And it’s taught me that big, positive change can and does occur through ordinary human effort and not extraordinary superhuman accomplishment.

I have come to the conclusion that I would rather struggle with an issue in full blown Technicolor than to watch on the sidelines and intellectualize. And that is the essence of Louisiana—it is a dynamic, imperfect, roil of success and failure, triumph and despair. I cannot think of another place I’d rather be, or another path I’d rather take. Union, justice, confidence. This I believe.