Top citizens truly inspire all of us

Published 9:20 am Friday, August 26, 2016

I had the pleasure on Sunday of being a part of Franklinton’s Citizen of the Year award ceremony.

This year’s citizen was Jim Morgan, who was recognized for, among other things, his contributions to his church, the parish school district and Dixie League Baseball. Like most citizens of the year in Franklinton, Bogalusa or anywhere else, his contributions to his community cannot easily be summed up. But suffice it to say, folks like Jim Morgan are among the reasons our communities thrive.

Of course, not everyone can afford the time and effort to do a lot and that’s OK. Heck, among the reasons we recognize citizens of the year is because they do more than most people can do.

However, I do think these folks can serve as reminders to the rest of us that unless we’re contributing to our communities, we’re just observing. Whether we’re going to city council meetings, contributing a pot-luck meal for church, picking up litter at the park or doing something larger, participation in community can help us feel connected and it helps create the world we live in and both of these things are important both to the individual and to the collective.

As I write this, folks from around the country — the world, even — are contributing with cash, service or with stuff to the tens of thousands of people who have been harmed by the flooding to the west of us. Volunteering and donating at a time of need are important, and we should all do something for the flood victims, if we can, but these things are not the same as being part of the community.

Rather, being an active member in a community is something more routine and certainly less dramatic than responding to a disaster. But if it requires less immediacy and less concern, being a member of a community requires deeper thought and consideration. This is because being a member of a community requires us to, first, care about where we live and, second, to engage.

Engaging in a community is not the same thing as showing up at a public meeting and yelling, just as a conversation with a friend is not the same thing as talking without pause for 20 minute and hanging up the phone. Now, I don’t believe we have to always agree—certainly bad ideas exist and there’s certainly no reason to support positions we believe are foolish—but if we do care about our community then it follows that we must care about the people within it. Caring about those with whom you disagree is, of course, much more difficult than giving $20 to the Red Cross following a natural disaster. Nevertheless, such is the sacrifice we must make if we’re to be part of a community. And, if people like Jim Morgan inspire us at all, I hope they inspire us to be part of the community, to become engaged with our neighbors and to care about the people around us.

Jesse Wright is the managing editor of The Daily News. You can email him at or call him at 985-732-2565, ext. 301.