as published in the Blytheville Courier News on Thursday, September 3, 2015
By TOM HENRY
Blytheville Middle School (BMS) Assistant Principal Louise Davis began Tuesday evening’s BMS Charter School Informational Public Meeting with the explosive words, “There are good things happening at Blytheville Middle School!”
The words were absolutely contagious and incredibly explosive.
Words do indeed have power. I remember hearing former County Judge Steve McGuire say many times, “It’s a great day to be in Mississippi County.”
His words were equally powerful.
The Bible tells us that the power of life and death are in the tongue. I also know that “you can’t see it until you believe it”, “misery loves company” and “birds of a feather flock together.”
What am I trying to say?
I’m trying to say that if you expect only bad things, that is all that you will see. But, if you believe that a better day is coming, you will find that instead. Critics spend their entire lives looking for things to complain about and losers spend all their energy trying to pull those around them down to their level in an attempt to no longer face the fact that they are refusing to make the change they say they are wanting. Winners and leaders cast a vision and write it down for others to read so that people may run with it (also in the Bible).
It is very easy (and lazy) to just look around us and see problems, failures, corruption, crime, death, despair, sickness, hopelessness, and all manner of depression. It is a little more difficult (and courageous) to find the good things that are happening and effect positive change.
If one looks around there has been incredible investment, both in infrastructure and construction as well as in the business and cultural worlds. Some vacant lots are finally being utilized.
New retailers are coming to Blytheville.
The Highway 18 project is finally making substantial progress again. Blytheville Schools anticipate coming off of the distressed status soon.
Arkansas Northeastern College is experiencing impressive growth, both in student achievement and also in its physical plant.
Additional steel related industries (and their high paying jobs) are coming to the area once again. In fact, not only is Mississippi County the nation’s number one row crop county, but soon it will also be the number one steel producing county in the nation.
Private improvements within the city, such as the beautiful prayer garden, have progressed beyond simply being a dream and have manifested into the world of reality. A lot of the worst violent criminals, which have been more responsible for holding the city back, have been taken off the streets. Citizens are beginning to really stand up and say “enough is enough” and “crime will not be tolerated here” instead of merely hiding out in their homes, trembling in fear.
The bottom-line is “as a man thinks, so is he” (in the Bible). So what are you thinking about? Are you paralyzed in fear because you only think, ponder and talk about the crime in Blytheville?
Are you the loser that is trying to pick apart everything those around you do that is “wrong” in order to pull them down to your level or are you a leader and a dreamer that is casting a vision for a better Blytheville? Be honest with yourself.
While I am encouraging each of us to stop and notice the good things that are happening in Blytheville, I am not asking you to deny the things that are in need of improvement. I am not advocating “going along just to get along.” We don’t need unity so much that we all walk lock-step over a cliff.
I am, however, advocating that you find that one thing that concerns you the most and get involved in the process of improvement.
That one issue is where your passion lies, put wisdom, knowledge and passion together and you are the person we’ve been waiting for.
We also need to celebrate success when we see it and become spokesmen to others about what Blytheville gets right. The truth is, a lot of wonderful things are happening here in Blytheville and we take them for granted each day. One such example is the reputation of That Bookstore in Blytheville. Often we simply pass right on by that landmark. But that famous bookstore has an international reputation as THE place to be if you are an independent author. This past weekend, there were many people, some from as far as Chicago, that visited the bookstore for its pre-Labor Day book signings and various events.
People drove nearly 1,000 miles round trip to participate in something that we simply pass by on the way from one side of town to the other each week. That Bookstore in Blytheville is just but one example, but there are others as well.
If you want to transport crabs you don’t have to put a lid on the container. Do you know why? It is because if one of the crabs attempts to climb out and escape, the other crabs will pull it back down.
Let’s not be ‘crabby’ and continue pulling down those that are trying to find a way out of the hopeless, negative, critical past we’ve experienced.
Let’s be one that dares to climb out of the hole and blaze a path to a better future.