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Traffic crawls on eastbound Interstate 12 approaching Airline Highway at 4:00pm, Thursday, December 21, 2017, in Baton Rouge, La.

Lent, a time of sober self-assessment for Christians, reminds us that looking hard at ourselves can be a good thing for communities, too.

All of this comes to mind with the release of a U.S. News & World Report ranking that placed Louisiana dead last among the 50 states for various quality of life indicators such as crime, health care, fiscal stability and infrastructure.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office disputed the ranking and said it sometimes relied on data that’s now out of date. That’s a fair critique, and we need to acknowledge progress when it occurs. But however one does the counting, Louisiana has a long way to go to fulfill its promise. The U.S. News & World Report assessment surely isn’t the first ranking that places Louisiana at or near the bottom in key indicators of civic health.

For those fortunate enough to have the basics, Louisiana is a lively and interesting place to live. The recently concluded Carnival season is proof of that. We’ve got the fun part down. The hard stuff, which can seem like a Lenten penance, is where we fall short. We must resolve to do better, long after Lent has passed.

Louisiana dead last, again, in latest 'Best States' ranking; Edwards admin: report 'misleading'