Sunday, February 03, 2013

The thin skin of resilient people

During the Super Bowl blackout, I posted this on Twitter:

I admit it was kind of over the line. But I'm hardly the only one who said it tonight

But understand where I'm coming from on this. After being born in Louisiana and living here for 26 years, I moved to Missouri. The year before, I spent a month in Utah. One of the first things I noticed in both places was how every road was so well maintained. Schools were in great shape in Missouri and free of the busybody tomfoolery that defines Louisiana education these days. Elected officials weren't automatically corrupt. My power wasn't constantly out for no reason. And, most of all, I always received my paychecks, rebates and tax refunds without having to chase all of them down with considerable effort. Also, I wasn't treated with hostility anytime I expressed an unpopular opinion. 

Which is what this tweet turned out to be. Someone said I was certainly free to leave, and another agreed. Yet another said that such outages are part of what make life interesting and fun.

Hold on.

The thing about Louisiana is that it truly is one of the greatest places in the world in terms of culture and friendliness. It's unique and organic. Unfortunately, that often leads people to believe rather fervently that everything about it makes it great.

Rough edges are fine. New Orleans especially is one of my favorite places because of them. But I don't get the pride in the hassles of everyday life, in things that can be fixed. Crappy infrastructure isn't culture. Small-minded thinking isn't a trait worthy of pride. These are things that we live with because we have to, perhaps, but forgive me if sometimes it's a lot to bear.

I understand the passion — I used to be the same way. I never wanted to hear anything negative about Louisiana. But there's something to be said about constructive criticism. And I worry all the time that the crumbling infrastructure of the state — and the increasingly pig-headed attitude of politicians and taxpayers alike — is only going to get worse. It doesn't have to, but there it is. It saddens me.

I wish more people would realize the difference between the quirks that make us unique and the failings that make us struggle. The chasm between the two is enormous.

I've often been told if I don't like it, leave. The more I hear that, the more I want to. 

As it is, the economy is likely to answer that one for me.

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