I grew up singing “Go Mississippi.” In fact, I learned to spell the state name by reciting “M-I-crooked letter, crooked letter-I-crooked letter, crooked letter-I-humpback, humpback-I.” While I have often heard of the tensions surrounding our state flag, I had never heard of the segregationist themes of the state song. And I really don’t care.
Why do we get in such an uproar over the state song or the beloved magnolia or the state bird? Why are our legislators spending even one minute on such minutiae? Has no one noticed that we have the lowest median household income in the entire country? Has anyone looked at the test scores of our children? Did no one take notice of the high teen birth rate?
I suppose, given such monumental problems, it’s easier to focus on minor details over which you have some control. But a conversation about the state song seems surreal to me. Seriously? Is this the only thing we can discuss without getting into a knockdown brawl?
Each week my inbox fills with e-mails from readers unhappy about my viewpoint. There are a lot of people out there who disagree with me. A lot. But most of the time, as we correspond back and forth, we reach a point of civility. We don’t suddenly find ourselves in agreement, but we keep talking.
I propose we begin conversations about the issues that really matter in this state. We need to have those tough discussions, hear each other’s viewpoints, and find some level of civility that will allow us to solve our most difficult problems.
So stop talking about state songs and magnolias and the weather, and let’s begin a serious discussion about the state we all love so much. The conversation may get heated. We may be tempted to give up and walk away, but we MUST keep talking. Our future depends on it.
>> Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and her website is www.newper.com.