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On the Road: Mardi Gras

March 8th, 2011. Filed under Louisiana,Social Good

I am having an amazing experience traveling on Our Revolution Road Trip and I’ve discovered some wonderful things about myself and the people I have come in contact with. One thing that I’ve learned is that the best kinds of social good are the ones that we take for granted.
Today, we’re down in Mobile, Alabama and headed to New Orleans for Fat Tuesday. Jubilant is the only way to describe the mood down here. People are out having a great time and everyone is friendly. Of course, Mardi Gras is the premiere party event of the year, so it’s no surprise that there is so much camaraderie. Fat Tuesday is the day before the Christian Ash Wednesday, and has traditionally been a day of excessive celebration in anticipation of the fasting and penance one does during the Lenten season. Even for non-Christians, it’s a time for rejoicing, for shedding our inhibitions and the drudgery of our daily lives if for just one day of flat-out, no-holds-barred FUN.

But beyond the typical festivities is an underlying feeling of community. These people aren’t just all about the King Cakes, beads, and constantly-flowing drinks. They understand the meaning of community, the connectedness we all have. It couldn’t have been more evident than the first Mardi Gras after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area, when New Orleanians pulled together to show the world that they were still here, still proud, and still the Mardi Gras destination.

This generosity of spirit is easy to overlook among the reverie, but I have been fortunate enough to witness it myself. I’ve watched people band together to help a stranded tourist get back on the road, assist a woman in a wheelchair cross a busy road, and make sure that the kids didn’t miss out on any of the throws given out, even when it meant giving up their own. Little moments that you might not normally notice, but which add up to one huge social good.

And that is truly the spirit behind Mardi Gras, isn’t it? Empowerment as a group, togetherness, community—those common bonds that make us feel connected to one another in a spirit of not only fun and festivity, but in generosity.

Shouldn’t we be doing this all the time?

Happy Mardi Gras, everyone!


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