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Looking locally for leadership

When you plant a seedling, it is almost impossible to picture how that tree will look when it is fully grown. A lot of factors go into the development of that tree: nutrients, nurture, nature and other influences.

For example, if you plant the seedling and force it to grow bent over, it will grow bent over. Plant it next to a fence or a wire, and it will absorb that part of the fence as it grows around it.

People also grow based on the influences they are given. Today, a lot of those influences come from the media, like TV, music or the Internet.

A lot of heroes and role models come from those media, people who can shape the lives of our youth and help them become strong people or force them to grow counter to how they should.

Role models can be found a little closer to home than Hollywood or the sports arenas.

They can be found right in our hometowns, even inside our own homes.

Very often, it’s hard to think of someone you see every day as a role model or a hero until you step back and look at the things that person does or has done. This area is loaded down with role models of all kinds, all genders, all races. There are hundreds upon hundreds of people who give their time, who devote their lives to helping others grow and to the development of the community.

I want to encourage our young people to think about the people they know who have had a positive influence on their lives or who help others improve themselves.

They may be people in positions of power or community influence. They may be teachers or librarians or city workers, store owners and businesspeople. They may be people who live in your neighborhood or even in your own house.

Having heroes from “out there” is fine, since that is where most of the most noted people are, but don’t forget to look closer to home to find a positive influence as well.

Role models are those who provide a positive influence and people who will help you grow stronger and develop into the person you may be. Just like trees, you, too, can grow to reach for the stars.

David Snow is managing editor of the Demopolis Times.