I like to think that we change each year. With every rotation around the Sun, we will hopefully grow and continue to mature as human beings. Never stop learning.
I know that’s optimistic, and I’ve been accused many times of being too idealistic. That’s ok. I like to think good of the world and the people in it rather than being “realistic.” People may be dumb and panicky and selfish and cruel, but they can also be kind and respectful and open to a dialogue. They can regress with each turn round the sun, and they can progress. There’s probably a little bit of both for most people. I don’t like to think anyone completely goes backwards even though I know someone (or lots of someone) out there do.
But many go forward. Maybe it’s just keeping a resolution to save money. Maybe it’s losing weight. Maybe it’s letting little things not bug them so much. Maybe it’s forgiving others. Maybe it’s showing more love to the people in their lives.
And maybe it’s a little bit more.
So today, in this first writing of 2023, I want to talk a little about two men who do a little bit more with each passing year.
Chris Plants and Patrick White spearhead two initiatives to make their community a better place to live, work, raise a family. Webster Parish Men of Courage and We’re Here bring attention to problems in the community not via complaint and pessimism but rather through uplifting and outreach based around the simple concept of there’s more that unites us than divides us.
They organize food drives, cook for the less fortunate, construct ramps for the disabled, speak to the wayward about finding a higher purpose, and give a voice to the weak, poor, or just those who are too afraid to speak up for themselves.
Each time you meet either of them, you come away with a bit of your faith renewed in humanity. Their lives haven’t been easy. You know that if you know a bit about their respective stories. But the difficulties in life never prevent them from smiling, encouraging and uplifting. Do you know how hard it is to always smile? To always be positive? They know that fight. They know how hard it is to make a difference. One person swimming against the roaring current of the world’s degeneracy and devilry. It would make lesser men give up and retreat to their own worlds, their own families, their own places of comfort and familiarity where they know they can make a change.
But that’s not what these men do. Men who do a little bit more, those who refuse to regress over the course of a year, know that the world isn’t in their homes. It isn’t in their EZ-chairs. It’s out there. It’s out in the dark and out in the cold. And that’s the world they know they have to go into if they ever hope to bring a little light. After all, that’s the only thing that can vanquish the dark. It doesn’t matter how much darkness there is, a little bit of light can change the world.
Two men were working on their own. They found each other. They found others. Their words and mission spread. One became many. And slowly the world around them has started to become a little bit better. Sure, sometimes it’s one step forward and two steps back. But the fight continues. All that’s ever changed the world is people refusing to let it be overtaken by the dark. People who refuse to let their lights shine.
Chris Plants and Patrick White shine a light. They pick themselves up and refuse to let a bad day turn into a bad week turn into a bad month turn into a bad year. They do a little bit more and as a result, inspire others to do a little bit more as well.
If you are interested in helping either, the mission of Men of Courage and We’re Here can be found on Facebook.
(Josh Beavers is a teacher and a writer. He has been recognized five times for excellence in opinion writing by the Louisiana Press Association.)