Mississippi heritage at stake with new law?

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2016

By Jon Fisher

Throughout my life, I’ve struggled mightily with politics and my political affiliation. I’ve voted regularly on both sides of the aisle for the person that I felt would do the best job for our state and country. I’ve served my community on our Board of Aldermen as a Democrat, which I also struggled with in each election I participated in. Due to that position, I was welcomed into homes and had doors slammed in my face (one of whose owner sits in my church every Sunday). The former taught me to have the grace to face up to the latter.

Today, while sitting in the melting pot of Los Angeles International Airport, I’m wondering what these travelers, who are up very early to get back to their jobs, schools and families, think of the ‘Hospitality’ State today. I know how I feel and it’s not very good.

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In Oxford this year, we replaced a Republican with a Democrat in our state House seat. Regardless of how you feel about his positions, Jay Hughes has represented his community with honor and provided us all with almost nonstop updates on the state of our state and has been very open in stating his position on bills brought before our legislature. Jay Hughes, thank you for this. You should be proud as you have represented us well, and I’m guessing that many of those votes were not easy. It might have been much easier to go with the flow and vote with the majority.

I believe Jay was elected because our community was not certain that they were being represented.

Today, I believe many of you likewise, do not believe our state is being represented well at all. There is but one thing for us all to do about this. We have to be active at the ballot box and in campaigns/politics in general. You have to be willing to vote your convictions without fear of reprisal or being called something silly like a ‘liberal’ or other term that has some other implied and useless meaning placed upon it. You have to vote and support without fear of not being ‘included.’

We all have to do the right thing and for too long now, we as a community, have been somewhat lax with our democracy. It is time to stop putting up with ‘that’s just the way it is’ and get refocused on doing the right thing for each other and put more people in office who will fully state their convictions and stick with them when they vote. This also carries forward to how they sell themselves as well. Are they going to be bought or are they going to represent you and I?

I for one, have not felt this bad about our state and ‘state’ since I was a freshman in college and realized that I was being recruited by a white supremacist to join his (lost) cause. I knew then how severe our problem was. In 1998, I had to really challenge myself to move back to Mississippi as I feared that things might not have changed enough. That we hadn’t buried the past so we could look to the future. My community of Oxford and Ole Miss has made great strides in the right direction, and I can say that there is nowhere else in this state that I would live, but in many ways, we sometimes appear on an island to ourselves.

We, as a people, will be greatly challenged in the future. Job prospects are rapidly changing for us all and our children. To be successful in the future, we all have to be better educated, but an education without opportunity can also be a dead end. Mississippi must move past its past and look to the future if we are to stop toiling in the fields and have the opportunity for true, modern success. What has happened this year in Jackson has done nothing toward improving on or changing the future; to making Mississippi a true fertile ground for ideas and investment that will support us and our families. The past is past and its ‘nirvana’ to some will never return. If we are honest, it was never much of a ‘nirvana’ anyway.

Jon T. Fisher is a technology executive and former alderman of Ward 6 in Oxford.