We’re so much better than how others see us

Published 10:04 pm Saturday, April 16, 2016

Mississippi has taken quite a beating lately, and I’m pretty sore because of it.

I’ll bet you are, too.

Regardless on what side you fall in the latest controversy, it’s not easy hearing others criticize a place you love.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Despite the apparent complete bone-headedness of the majority of our state elected officials, who caused unnecessarily this latest ruckus, I love Mississippi. Love it to the core of my being, and you know just as well as I do, that’s not always easy.

I get a little offended when others criticize her, even when that criticism is well deserved.

The way it’s made me feel reminds me of a letter to the editor written to The Natchez Democrat when I was in college. It was during the time Louisiana’s then-Gov. Edwin Edwards was being investigated for a myriad of wrongdoing. The Democrat was repeatedly critical of Edwards’ actions in several columns and editorials it published.

A reader from Vidalia, La., just across the river from Natchez, sent a letter the gist of which was Edwards may be an (expletive), but he’s our (expletive), and you need to keep off of him.

But of course, life doesn’t work that way, particularly in today’s world of instant, unverified communication. People aren’t going to back off. They are going to jump on the bandwagon and ride it until the next juicy tidbit comes along.

That’s what makes the actions of our legislature all the more foolish and reckless. The outcry was predictable, and it benefited no one. What harm it cost our state economically remains to be seen, but we already know it will be costly.

I’ve wanted to shout out to those who have announced travel bans to Mississippi and who are cancelling plans to bring jobs here, “Wait! Don’t be so hasty! That’s not all there is to Mississippi! You’re missing so much good that’s happening here, has happened here! The Mississippi you’re seeing isn’t the Mississippi all of us know.”

I’m sad that our reputation as the hospitality state has been tarnished so, because we are hospitable. We’ve all heard stories of how Mississippians have gone out of their way to make others feel welcome and comfortable. Most of us have felt that hospitality ourselves.

Reportedly in an interview that took place on April 11 or thereabouts, actor Nicolas Cage praised residents of Jackson, Miss., who came to his rescue when he had car trouble. Those who helped didn’t know of his celebrity when they stopped, he said, noting such help would not be as forthcoming in L.A.

I’ve wanted to remind those from other states how talented we are. I’d drop a few names, like Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Walter Payton — God rest his magnificent soul. John Grisham. Faith Hill. Greg Iles. You know I could go on and on. Archie Manning. Elvis. Tina Turner, for goodness sakes.

Our natural beauty is something to behold and I want others to see it. Not just our historic homes, as majestic as they are, but our landscapes. You know we can grow us some azaleas.

Lord knows we can cook — and do so with gusto. I’ve lived in six different states and mine has been a life well fed. You can trust me when I tell you no one does it quite like a Mississippian.

We’re leaders in medicine and space research and literature and art.

The first heart transplant took place at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson in 1964. Rocket propulsion exploration at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County has been critical in rocket development.

We in Mississippi know we are so much more than the polarized hot mess we insist on showing others. It’s a shame the vocal minority in our state is so successful in pushing its agenda on the rest of us.

The only way we are going to turn it around is to get out the vote and do a better job of choosing those who represent us.

Jan Griffey is editor of The Vicksburg Post. You may reach her at jan.griffey@vicksburgpost.com. Readers are invited to submit their opinions for publication.