I'm amazed sometimes at how backward I am. I guess not many people will proclaim it proudly, and I'd never really thought about til recently.
I was standing outside a literal mansion speaking to a member of the French parliament when it hit me. I tried to maintain my professional interview speak but I started to struggle. I was forgetting questions like a pure novice, improvising like I didn't know who would be there beforehand.
The problem was, I was entirely too giddy simply to be speaking to a French person. I'd never met one before, the closest I'd gotten was some Quebec snowbirds when I lived in a retirement town in Florida. Hearing an actual French person try to pronounce Hopkinsville and butchering it was the absolute highlight of my day. The wine probably helped.
I'm not making fun of the gentleman, he did much better than I would were our situations reversed, but I went wide-eyed and I know he had to notice. If by some miracle you're reading this sir, I apologize. I'm just a backwards man from a backwards town who has never experienced your culture.
It was a bit of a shock that there were French nationals in Christian County at all. Hoptown has set itself up as a sister city to Carentan in northern France and that is mind-boggling to me. Those kind of ceremonies and honorifics, however meaningful they are, is reserved for towns that aren't 50 miles from the nearest backwater.
For me, it was emblematic of how far the county has come in a short time.
Don't get me wrong, Christian County's biggest claim to fame will likely be its proximity to Nashville until the sun burns a different color. However, there's motion in this backwater.
For a long time, this area was a stagnant pond. I don't mean to offend, it's just the observation of a man who's lived here for almost his entire life. It felt like the county was content doing the same things it had always done.
When I moved off to Murray for college, I felt like I could come back in 10 years and nothing would have changed. Christian County was a time capsule of its own volition. Good for nostalgia if not for industry.
People complained, and we had our share who tried to stir the still waters. It just never felt like we got any real momentum.
But that's changed, hasn't it? The energy here is … different. It feels like we're making progress. I've gotten to know some of the people I would at least give partial credit for making that happen. It's a mix of locals and "outsiders," and not all of them want the same things, but you can't deny their energy. It's almost infectious.
You would think that this would be cause for celebration. We're making moves. They're not all obvious, they're not all effective, and not everyone is benefiting, at least not yet, but the ball is in motion.
The complaints, however, have not ceased. Like the wave at a baseball game, they've just moved around, maybe even gotten louder depending on where you sit.
I've seen people who are trying to make a difference struggle under that weight. I'm not perfect in that regard myself -- it's easier to tear down than build up.
Look, people complain. Humankind has gotten really good at it.
So I wrote this to recognize the good I believe is being done. Maybe I'm wrong, but I know I'm not alone. The claps on the back are always going to be more rare than the boo-birds. My old editor used to say that journalism was an industry where if 50 percent of people thought you were doing well, you were among the best. It's probably less than that.
Making progress on this level, I think, is in the same boat. Keep trying to build our little community, for even if you build the greatest county in the world people will complain about something. Take heart, that doesn't mean you're not doing a good job, and that's this week's small victory.
Jesse Jones is the editor of The Eagle Post, a member of Paxton Media Group. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.