Today Louisiana celebrates her 202nd birthday.
I have found that I am one of the few students at LSU who is proud to be from Louisiana, and wishes to remain here. My classmates bash her all the time:
We’re fat, uneducated, ignorant, and close-minded. We have awful roads and mediocre schools. Our politicians are corrupt. Our crime is staggering and our health is shocking.
My classmates dream of living in glamourous places like Los Angeles, or New York, or London. It is there, they say, where opportunities of success thrive.
“Why would you ever stay in a failing state with more problems than you can list?” they ask me.
Here’s my reply.
Louisiana is home. This place is filled with good, decent people who care about the well-being of their neighbors. This place is filled with warm, welcoming people who know how to have fun. This place is filled with caring, loving people who protect their communities.
I care about these people. I don’t want to see them living in poverty and living with diseases. Louisiana deserves better. We’re not perfect. But I want to stay here to fix the problems of those good, decent, warm, welcoming, caring and loving people. My fellow Louisianans need help. We need money and resources. We need leaders who are driven by passion instead of power. We need bright ideas.
I believe in these people. And I believe that I can help them. And I believe that they can help themselves if they are given the right opportunities and resources. But how will they ever get the opportunity if the best and brightest young people lend their valuable talent and skills to states already overflowing with entrepreneurs and engineers and thinkers and leaders?
I challenge my classmates to stay! Love your home! Fix it, better it, be the change! Stop complaining about our issues and use the blessings God gave you to show the world that Louisiana is not a place to be ashamed of, but a place to be proud of.
Happy birthday, Louisiana. I wish you 202 years different than the ones we are leaving behind. I wish you a future where your homegrown people cling to you and help you and build you up to your fullest potential. You are beautiful and wonderful and mysterious and fun and eccentric and hospitable, and I don’t ever want you to lose those traits. I wish for you that your sons and daughters use those characteristics for the good of your being. Here’s to you, Louisiana. Grow and flourish.