Mississippians are known for having close-knit families.

That is a laudable quality that helps explain why the South is so good.

But sometimes we carry that close-knitness too far over to our governmental and civic boards and committees.

Too often, theses groups “keep it in the family,” continuing with the same members year after year – sometimes decade after decade. The officers may rotate occasionally from time to time but the core group is largely unchanged. They just keep it in the family.

One may argue that this practice at least guarantees plenty of experience among the board or committee, and that’s true. 

But another view is this sort of thing results in stagnation that makes it unlikely for any fresh ideas or actions to emerge from those who have been through the routine way too many times.

In some cases a board or committee member just does not want to give up a position and leave; in others the group as a whole does not want one to leave.

But on the other hand, too often fresh faces are difficult to find and recruit for a board or committee. People are reluctant.

Public service is a responsibility and an honor. 

However, it can also mean a considerable amount of added work, stress and criticism, often with no tangible reward other than the satisfaction of trying to improve the lives of those in one’s community.

It doesn’t help that people today often see government as a partisan, divisive, stubborn, selfish mess. Even though the greater part of the mess is at the state and national level, it makes one wary of jumping into any sort of local group.

There’s no guarantee that new board members will bring about new ideas and actions but if you never seek change you will just get what you already got.

Perhaps local groups will look more for fresh faces in their make-ups and that individuals will rise to the challenge of helping take the lead in our community. It’s worth a try.

(Disclaimer: the writer of this piece has also served too long on some boards, one in particular, so these comments apply to him equally.)

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