Stress achievement, not people

We don’t buy Augusta’s “most-stressed” label, but challenges await us

If Augusta is one of the most-stressed cities in the nation, as personal finance website Wallethub seems to think, we sure hide it well.

 

WalletHub almost seems to have it in for Augusta. Its previous rankings put Augusta among the unhealthiest and unhappiest, as well as one of the worst places to either be single or starting a career.

Its newest study claims Augusta is the ninth-most stressed city in the U.S.

Frankly, we don’t see it. Certainly not in our daily interactions with Augustans, anyway.

Neither does former Mayor Deke Copenhaver, these days host of a weekday interview show on WGAC AM-580.

“I basically don’t see this,” he told us, “and I’ve had a true cross section of guests from all walks of life in nearly eight months of doing the show.”

And while it’s not scientific, we chatted with a New Mexico family at an Augusta GreenJackets game recently that was touring ballparks across the country. When we asked what their best experience had been on their cross-country extravaganza, they said, “Probably this.”

Granted, life at a Class-A minor league ballpark can be pretty laid back. But so can Augusta. And what’s wrong with that?

If there’s a flaw in the study, perhaps it’s that it mostly measures stressors — not stressed people. Stress is all about how you handle it.

We must be handling it pretty well.

Then again, it would be sticking our head in the sand to ignore evidence of stressors. Poverty, single-parent households, skill gaps, underperforming schools and more can all weigh on people and communities.

One of Augusta’s challenges, as it transitions to one of the nation’s and even the world’s centers for computer security — with cyber explosions both at Fort Gordon and on the river through the state and Augusta University — is to bring as many Augustans along as possible.

That will require years of work to prepare students from early ages on to understand and participate in the cyber revolution.

“I’m hoping,” Copenhaver added, “that as more and more organizations and individuals work together collaboratively we’ll be able to move the needle on poverty with the cyber tsunami helping to provide some of the resources to do it.”

The leadership is falling into place. Richmond County Schools Superintendent Angela Pringle is dynamic. Augusta University President Dr. Brooks Keel — an Augusta native — is visionary and people-oriented. The public sector and private sector are collaborating as never before — as exemplified by the $60 million Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, brought to life by Gov. Nathan Deal and the future home of both public and private cyber warriors.

One of our primary goals needs to be producing tomorrow’s cyber workforce — and tilling Augusta’s fertile ground in the process.

Children and students need to be told, and shown, that if they mind their P’s and Q’s, stay in school, stay off drugs, avoid unplanned pregnancies and show a willingness to work hard, there’s a bright future for them.

There will always be stressors in life. But if you’re up to the task, you needn’t be captive to them.

 

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