June 20, 2020 9:38:10 PM
"Temper is a weapon we hold by the blade,"
-- James M. Barrie
When we pause for a moment of introspection, most of us will admit we are not quite ourselves these days.
Why should we be?
For the past few months, we've found ourselves facing a combination of stresses never before seen by this generation. COVID-19 has created isolation, fear for our health and the health of our loved ones and fear, too, for our livelihoods in the face of an illness without cure or treatment.
If that weren't enough, we are confronting deep-seated issues of race that have an added dimension of resonance here in Mississippi, where such issues have lain dormant, just under the surface of society. The pressure from these issues has slowly built, unnoticed, yet dangerous.
Recent public incidents of police brutality directed toward black citizens have opened the door to a righteous anger and frustration over racial inequality -- both intentional and unintentional. Debates over whether Mississippi should change its Jim Crow-era state flag and the Jim Crow-era Confederate Monuments on public property simmer.
And when Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders said blacks, alone among all American races and ethnic groups, have failed to assimilate and are "dependent," the fuse was lit.
We don't know how long the fuse is or even how to put it out.
There are some who wonder if it should be put out at all, that the explosion has been a long time coming.
We are frustrated, fearful, unsettled, angry -- emotions that can manifest themselves in unexpected ways. Little slights become major offenses. Disagreements become arguments. Misunderstandings become malice. In a moment, we may turn on friend as well as foe.
We are not ourselves. We need to recognize that and check our temper when it threatens to overtake sound judgment.
The editors of this paper are not so arrogant as to dictate how anyone should feel in this hour.
Your emotions are real and legitimate.
But, as Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, reminds us, we carry the weapon of temper by the blade, and we will live among the ashes of the fires we feed.
In the end, this remains our home and these remain our neighbors.
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