Oct. 16, 2015 02:09 PM

Following the Oct. 24 election, we have an opportunity to come together like never before.

There's a word that often characterizes our community, our people — who we are and what we do. That word is UNITY. Not only do we unite to celebrate victories, but we also come together as a community in times of sorrow. After experiencing a devastating event, as we did this summer, economic hard times are put into perspective.

From yard signs and decals to T-shirts and even tattoos, people have banded together to show their pride in Lafayette and Acadiana and their support for their fellow residents. This display of unity is not out of the ordinary for us; the events of July 23 served to strengthen the bonds of unity in Lafayette and Acadiana.

In his blog post, “Why I Call Lafayette Home,” Ryan Baniewicz wrote, “Lafayette is a place of love, compassion, understanding and family. No darkness or tragedy can ever outweigh the warmth generated in Cajun country.” From the earliest days of exile, our ancestors demonstrated that ideal — as many of us do today.

We are at a crossroads in Lafayette.

In the past we’ve come together in tough times to improve, succeed and shine. That time has come again. Following the Oct. 24 election, we have an opportunity to come together like never before.

Looking ahead to November, the executive and legislative bodies of both local and state governments must come together for the betterment of our community. We need to establish community priorities and pursue them relentlessly. All of us, elected and public offi cials and residents, need to understand that our love for the community has to outweigh our desire for political gain.

Our community comes fi rst — in times of tragedy, in times of economic hardship and in times of great opportunity. We need to come together. It’s the only way to properly express our respect for those who came before us, who cared for this community so much, who gave so much. It’s the only way to show respect for those who invest every day in the future of our community — whether they be business leaders, educators, public servants, volunteers, students or residents.

I have a great deal of respect for those who offer themselves up for elected offi ce. It shows strength of character and personal resolve to enter the political arena. Whether you win or fi nish second or third or whether your candidate wins or finishes second or third, everyone is running and involved for the same reason — they have a desire for Lafayette to be a great place to live, work and raise a family. To be the best Lafayette we can be.

Cultural anthropologist and writer Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” It just takes a spark to ignite change and development in a community. I believe that together as a community, we can spark that positivity in Lafayette.

I share my favorite quote often; and it seems even more apt today. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, “Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will fi nd yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.”

Not only does this apply to us as individuals, but it applies to us as a community. On the path to excellence, you will eventually reach the summit and be united with others who also strived to be the best they can be. For everything that rises must converge.

Always strive for improvement — personally, in your business and in your community. For everything that rises must converge.

Create opportunities for yourself, for others and for the community. For everything that rises must converge.

Our convergence as a citizenry in support of this place we call home, this place we all love — Lafayette — should be the logical conclusion to 2015. Nothing should ever separate us from our mission to build a great home. We must continue our course as a great community through our unity.

Gregg Gothreaux is president and CEO of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority.

Read the Flipping Paper!

While the members of this diverse group of Acadiana women can’t all say they were firsts, each of them has contributed to our community in ways too countless to capture in 500-word profiles ...