NORMAN — Last year Norman was recognized as one of the “Best Places to Live” in Money Magazine! Among the top 100 small cities in America, Norman was ranked 91. I was pleased with this distinction. It confirmed my suspicions and gave me ammunition to use when conversing with misguided souls living in other locations. I wondered why it took this long for people to catch on.
Norman is a great place to live.
However, there are those who miss the splendor of our community because they define Norman only in terms of the obvious and the traditional.
We are known for living in the heart of tornado alley. We also house state-of-the-art weather prediction facilities and equipment. Of course, Norman is home to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service. Norman is known for weather.
And whether you are a football fan or not, Norman is known for consistently fielding teams able to compete on the highest level in intercollegiate athletics. The University of Oklahoma is an institution of higher learning with an athletic department (not the other way around). Still, Norman is commonly recognized as the home of Sooner football.
What if the residents of this city conducted their lives in such a manner that Norman became associated with a particular virtue even more than severe weather or sports? If we could be known for one particular attribute or characteristic, what might that be? What impact would it have on our community or on those who may come by to visit?
What if Norman became known as a beacon of industry and the best place to work?
What would it be like to be viewed as a community with active civic participation, where nearly every citizen votes and where many are willing to hold office?
What impact would it have if Norman was associated with remarkable church attendance — where the residents of its denominations frequented their places of worship in droves?
How would our lives be impacted if we lived in a community widely known for the compassion and care shown to residents in need?
Recognition is not what we seek. Still, it is possible to foster a culture of caring by following the Master who showed us how to hate sin but love the sinner, to treat others as we would be treated, and to avoid serving for personal attention (see Matthew 6:3, 7:12; John 8:10-11).
By so doing we might climb even higher in the rankings — and we may just drop. Either way, those who live here will become even more convincing when they make the case to others that Norman is the best place to live.