Positive Miss. must be spoken here, elsewhere

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, May 20, 2012

During his governorship, Kirk Fordice had signs saying, “Only Positive Mississippi Spoken Here,” attached to the larger signs welcoming visitors to the state.

     The Fordice-inspired signs have since been removed, but the sentiment they expressed is something we should keep in mind after some outsiders decided to take some potshots at our fair state recently.

     North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue disparagingly likened her state to Mississippi after Tarheel residents approved a ban on gay marriage. And in an unrelated matter, a U.S. Department of Justice employee criticized Mississippi as “disgusting and shameful” in a Facebook posting.

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     By now, we should be used to such insults from outsiders, many of whom have never set foot in the Magnolia State.

     The barbs still sting, though, and serve as a reminder of why we must keep our heads high and be proud of our citizens and accomplishments. As the saying goes, if we don’t toot our horns, who will?

     Granted, our past in the area of race relations is not a shining example of harmony. And statistics place us at or near the bottom in income levels, education and in a variety of health-related categories.

     Despite our history and shortcomings, as a state we have also accomplished much and have much to be proud of and we should collectively carry on and strive to make our immediate surroundings and the state as a whole a better place to live.

     As Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann is fond of pointing out, Mississippians are the most generous when it comes to supporting charitable organizations. The U.S. Census Bureau charts our generosity at $4,770 on average per capita.

     Our reputation for looking out for our neighbors seems only logical in a state with the most churches per capita. It seems like being like Mississippi is a pretty good thing.

     In addition to the unparalleled Christian charity that abounds in our state, we also can take inspiration for some positive talk from the success stories of some of our fellow Mississippians.

     A Mississippi Believe It! promotional campaign highlights such individuals. From sports to industry to the arts, with clever phrases like, “Yes, we can read. Some of us can even write,” the campaign puts the spotlight on those who have succeeded in the grandest fashion and still call Mississippi home. The web site, www.mississippibelieveit.com, offers a wealth of ammunition for talking up our state.

     Few people have to bat an eye before texting or Facebook messaging good news about their friends or family to everyone in their address book. Perhaps we should be as diligent about standing up for our home state as well.

     Positive Mississippi? Definitely! But let’s not keep that good news to ourselves.