It’s time we stop kicking the dirt

Published 8:31 pm Friday, January 17, 2014

Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

Almost 53 years to the day since President John F. Kennedy first uttered this call to action, I think it’s time we remember what he said back then, but also think of how we could tweak this phrase to fit our current situation.

Ask not what Selma can do for you — ask what you can do for Selma.

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A lot of attention has been given to the questions surrounding our city, as well as the shortcomings that leave our town — in the eyes of many — lagging behind.

Not enough attention has been given to the things that make our town great. Selma has a rich history that bigger cities who readily embrace. Selma has a one-of-a-kind collection of architecture others would celebrate. And surely, not enough attention had been paid to the people who live hear, the people who make this town great.

Selma is great today, and this city has nothing but the potential to be even greater in the future.

It’s time we ask what’s holding us back from that future.

Here’s a hint; it’s not last year’s crime rate, or sinkholes in parks or a school system that can’t get out of it’s own way.

It’s you ask me, it’s each and every one of us who wring our hands and kick the dirt when we hear another negative comment about our city.

It’s those of us who drive past our poor neighbors and say, “Somebody should really do something about the poverty in this town,” or “I wish they’d clean this place up.”

Earlier this year, Selma Mayor George Evans made a request in the middle of a city council meeting — a request that likely earned chuckles and sneers from people both within and without the city limits.

I must admit, as I had been new to town at the time, Evans’ plea for Selma residents to include the city in their living will’s was something of an eye opener to me.

But what was he asking us to do? He wasn’t asking for the city to be the only benefactor of those with the means and the money, he’s ask us to do our part, as unconventional as this approach may be.

Think of the five things that bother you about either your neighborhood or Selma. Something tells me that for many of us, that list was quick to come by.

Now think of how YOU can make each of those weaknesses a positive.

I think it’s time for all of us, as Selmians, to take a hard look at ourselves instead of our city.

There are so many individuals and organizations in this city who have made it their work and their mission to better the world around them. That is a novel idea that we should all embrace in the new year.

No gift is to small — if you can give money to a charitable organization, help a neighbor with their yard work, or volunteer at a soup kitchen — it all makes a difference.

We can complain to ourselves about the weaknesses of our city, or together we can do something about them.