I have a dear friend who is fearful of spiders. I don’t know why, but he is. He invented a device to mount on the front of a four wheeler to remove spider webs as he moves through the woods. Once, a nameless someone slipped into his office and drew a spider on a blank page near the front of his legal pad. I was lucky enough to be in the meeting when he, taking notes, flipped to the “spider” page in his portfolio. He jumped!

spider-public-domainSeveral times I suggested desensitization to help him overcome his fear of spiders. He refuses. A great outcome for him would be to see a spider and be able to ignore it. Or maybe say, “of course, it’s just a spider”.

Louisiana has the opposite problem. We are much too comfortable with spiders. We are so comfortable that we don’t even notice them. If someone does point one out, we simply say, “of course, this is Louisiana”.

I am not talking about 8-legged spiders of the arachnid type. To be clear, I am using “spiders” as a metaphor for Louisiana’s complacent and willful acceptance of how poorly we rank on issues related to child well-being, poverty, housing instability, and food insecurity in our state.

When my friend hears, “there’s a spider”, he jumps in response. He is ready to protect himself.

When we hear, “Louisiana has averaged 49th among the states in child well-being for 26 years”, we stretch, and say with a yawn, “of course, this is Louisiana”.

Instead, we should be jumping with fright and frantic for solutions.

Louisiana, we are too comfortable, much too comfortable with spiders.

Rick Wheat
President/CEO
Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home