by Ron Cook

Louisiana is a state with a vast and diverse history. Somehow, Louisiana has been able to evolve in a way that combines all of its diversity into a welcoming, hospitable state. A while back, I wrote a New Year’s piece here called “Who Dat.” It was an affectionate look at the people, the culture, and the experience of Louisiana to an outsider. My visits to this state have supported these observations. Today I want to reflect on the hopeful message Louisiana has for these present times.

As America comes out of shelter-in-place, a new attitude towards others will be helpful. The extension of kindness and thoughtfulness may be essential ingredients to a healing nation. My experience of those qualities in the “Who Dat” state were persistent and daily. Now, there may be new guidelines for safe interaction, yet the friendly spirit of interactions remains the same.

In the Bible there is a chapter often read at weddings .. .but it is meant to be used as a daily standard for living. Chapter 13 of First Corinthians starts with: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” In Louisiana people don’t seem to waste time talking to hear themself talk. They say what they mean, and show interest in others.

Further, to learn what it means to love, Louisianaians often follow this tenet: “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.” These are words that describe a people who look out for the needs of others.

“… love does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.” These qualities will be important as we come to understand how we carefully interact in these new days so that we can keep ourselves and others safe, yet loved.

“…does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth.” Being slow to judge, and quick to encourage are traits already present in Louisiana.

“…bears all things, believes all things, hope’s all things, endures all things.”

Here’s where the natural faith in others gets a chance to grow. We can’t eat a seed until it becomes the plant. We can’t see the good in others until we find the good in ourselves, and we allow good to grow.

July brings celebrations that commemorate the ideals in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. The ideals are more important than the celebrations. These ideals were also meant to be a guideline for our daily lives.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

May we all be reminded of our call to love others and celebrate that we live in a state, and a country that promotes these ideals as the basis of our existence. Happy July!

Ronald Cook

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