El Paso’s a poor town, and we’re not getting any richer. That’s just a fact. We’re at the absolute bottom for median income for cities our size.
It’s no fun to be on the City Council of a poor city. At least, not if you’re responsible. You don’t get to spend millions of dollars. You don’t get wined and dined and feted by contractors, and developers, and lobbyists. You don’t get to sit at the cool kids’ table, and they don’t shake your hand when you walk into the Country Club. Maybe you don’t even get invited to the Country Club.
El Paso’s a poor city.
But you don’t need a lot of money to be cool. And acting like you have a lot of money is uncool, whether you do or you don’t, but especially if you don’t.
Passion is cool.
When you skip meals to save money to buy oil paint, that’s cool. When you’re sleeping on couches between gigs while you’re putting your band together, that’s cool. When you take a job washing cars at a used car lot so you can train for your next fight, or race, or game, that’s cool. When you live in a tent so you can climb every day, that’s cool.
When you pursue your passion regardless of the monetary reward, that’s cool.
El Paso’s a poor city. We should make it a bastion of passion. We should make it a place where it’s cool to pursue your passion, whatever it is. The arts, or athletics, or science, or social justice.
Sure, some, probably most of us, will fail. We’ll never be rock stars. We’ll never be movie stars. We won’t win the Nobel Prize for literature, or capture cold fusion, or bring human rights and the rule of law to the Americas. But we might find jobs that let us pursue our dreams. And once you learn to be passionate about something, you throw yourself into other parts of your life.
And if you can make your passion your job, you’re a rich man.
Passion is addictive. Once you feel passion, it’s hard to settle for less.
El Paso can achieve economic development through education. But an educated workforce is at least twelve years off, once we stop dragging our feet. What are we going to do for economic development today, or tomorrow, or next week? Ride the trolley? Go to a game?
We can nurture passion today. We can teach kids to dream. Big. We can give them the tools to get them started, and teach them to face adversity.
And to never lose their passion.