Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Taking Back Mississippi

Credit: Thomas Thornycroft
It's no secret that Mississippi has long been under the boot heel of preachers and politicians who put their own interests above those of the people. I think it's even safe to say that corruption is so ingrained in our way of life down here that we've come to expect it and take a rather lackadaisical attitude towards it. Many are the times I've heard people say, "That's just the way things are down here," or "It's never gonna change. It'll always be that way."

Mississippians proved that wrong in 2011 when we said NO to amendment 26's "personhood" initiative. Against the dollars funneled in by Colorado's forced-birth group, against the organization and bullying of the local churches...against all hope...we defeated them by 58%. And now we've done it again.

Last night - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - in Corinth, MS, the voters passed a liquor referendum by 70%. The churches posted their signs. The pastors thundered their sermons of doom. But 70% of the voters paid them no mind. Now the pastors are weeping and caterwauling at this stinging defeat and well they should - it's a sign of the times and conservative religion is losing!

The most damning belief we can hold is that we can't change anything. It's a message you'll hear all the time from those who don't want things to change or those who have already given up. The future is not for those people - it's for us. Mississippi doesn't have to always be the third-world state of the union. It doesn't always have to be the brunt of every joke. We can make it a better, freer place to live but it's going to take work.

Be sure, that work is going to continue to be arduous, maybe even risky, at times. It's always hard to take a stand against something that is so deeply ingrained. Nevertheless, we owe it to ourselves, our country, and our future generations to turn this ship around. Someone has to fight these battles and last night's victory is proof that votes - and voices - matter.

Every soldier in this fight is valuable. It doesn't matter whether your job is to stand on the front lines, fire the cannons, lead the calvary, run the ammunition, or cook for the troops. Everybody has a place in this fight. So do what you can. Plant the seeds of freedom by challenging myths and assumptions. Spread those seeds on Facebook and Twitter. Use humor. Be creative. Find your place in the ranks and help us pull this state out of its corrupted and prohibitive rut.

We pay a lot of lip service to the concept of freedom. Now it's time to claim that freedom - to claim our natural rights as free people. We don't need Mississippi's version of the nanny state, always telling us what religion says we can't drink or view or buy. We need to make those decisions for ourselves.

Use your voice. Use your vote.

Take Mississippi back!