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Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022

Shreveport Is Deserving Of Something Better

Two many people believe city’s ‘worst of’ rankings

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins says, “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” This is why some people can achieve great success in whatever may be their chosen field, while others work just as hard but achieve very little.

Of course, many will say that the more successful people are just luckier, smarter or better looking. The more successful folks know the right people, have more education or come from a family with money and connections that make success far easier for them.

That may be true in some instances. But at the same time, we also know that luck isn’t always “dumb luck.” As it is often said, “The harder I work, the more luck I have.” And yes, the more successful can be smarter, but not necessarily because of a framed diploma on their wall from any prestigious university – many have attended the “University of Hard Knocks” instead.

And while the more successful do know the “right” people, that’s only because they’ve chosen to surround themselves with those who lift them up and not tear them down. You see, when you surround yourself with the wrong company, you often get the wrong outcome. Who you surround yourself with can corrupt your character and cause you to lose faith in yourself, which eventually leads to doubt and discouragement.

Might this all be true of cities and towns – where communities have surrounded themselves with the wrong people for decades, such as poor leadership in elected office. Instead of lifting up their constituents, they’ve caused doubt and discouragement, even hopelessness, instead?

For example, there are all sorts of rankings that list Shreveport at the bottom of the desirable categories and the top of the undesirable ones. One report, for example, ranked Shreveport as the 21st worst city in the U.S. to live in, just behind Compton, Calif., and Little Rock, Ark.

But for too many Shreveporters, there was no push back, or “Aw, hell, no, you’re not going to write this about our hometown.” Instead, it seemed reasonable to them, or at least that ranking “sounded about right” for a city with rampant crime, anemic economic development and a shrinking population.

Now, don’t misunderstand; Shreveport has issues, but most troubling is how many Shreveporters believe their city belongs on such a “worst of” list in the first place.

That’s not good because how we speak to ourselves – how we think of one another – is important. The Bible tells us this also: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7).

So, why would so many think we’re not deserving of something better than to be on a “worst of” list? Maybe it is a product of our past. The drop in oil prices in the 1980s – and the bankruptcies and foreclosures that followed – didn’t help, of course. Fast forward to the GM plant closing in 2012 and countless manufacturing jobs that have left town, including now a local casino.

Then there are the dilapidated streets, higher and higher property taxes, failing schools, rising city debt (even amidst a declining population), plus increasing crime and anemic economic development. Plus, a city hall that has mismanaged city services, wasted public monies and is filled with incompetence.

So, I get it. Maybe there’s good reason why so many feel undeserving of something better. Or why many locals will ask those who have recently moved here, “How did you end up in Shreveport?” This sense of “not deserving better” may be precisely why we keep electing the same character of leaders who got us into this mess in the first place.

And when we don’t feel we deserve better, guess what happens? We elect leaders who treat us as if we don’t deserve better and who are more interested in “serving” themselves than our community.

It’s often said that people will treat you the way you let them, so appearing on a “worst place to live” list should have set off a firestorm of criticism from Shreveporters, but too many simply read the headline and said, “That sounds about right.”

But it isn’t, and if we’re OK ranking ourselves at the bottom, why in the world would anyone rank us at the top?

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.

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