Friday, July 31, 2009

Step 1

This is all in hindsight. It's 120/40, you know.

I have grown to known Jackson, MS, in my three or so years living there, and I won't have fond memories of this place. After Josh left, I... I don't know... grew restless, no... paranoid. Every squeak felt ominous. And I would stupidly watch the news and be scared silly of reports of murders and burglaries, all much too close to home.

I had decided before Josh had left that I was not staying in Jackson alone. It was too much. For one, I couldn't afford it. No one was hiring [me], and Josh didn't have a job in California yet. I would move back to my old hometown, well, more like home community. The biggest decision was whether to do it before or after Christmas. Of course, one night staring at the ceiling listening to sirens convinced me that it was going to be before.

Is Jackson, MS, the absolute worse place to live? The obvious answer would be no, but sometimes I had my doubts. However, while I haven't met very many (read no one) who think Jackson is a good city to live in, there are some that believe that it has potential and can be turned around. All we have to do is get out and... hmm, that's where it gets murky. How can Jackson be changed for the better?

Some think by building up businesses in the heart of Jackson, it will encourage other businesses to move there which eventually will change the face of the community by pushing out the bad climate. Others stand behind social services such as providing loans, housing, food, and medical care that will allow second chances and a leg up. Then there are those who believe being positive is the best medicine because what is holding Jackson back is that no one thinks it will get better.

Josh's former church, Voice of Calvary Fellowship, believes in being examples for the community to follow. Actually, I think that if an idea(l) could work, it would be that one. The only problem is that the "it works for me" could be divisive.

Voice of Calvary Fellowship resides in West Jackson; that's the bad part of town to those of you who don't know (wait, isn't it all bad?). The body has always had an eye on bettering Jackson from the inside but has had stumbling blocks. I think that this has to do with resistance from the community. The members of VOC are not poor. They are solidly middle class people (why do I want to say folks?) who own businesses, have investments, found corporations, and write successful books. The church is a mixture of whites, blacks, Africans, and Asians and is nondenominational. These are not the common demographics of Jackson. And so when Jackson looks at them, they'll probably see an exception to the rule. Yeah, it works for them because they have affluence and power. That's not our situation; what they do wouldn't work for me.

It's difficult to identify with people we see as different. I hope that being different is the only attitude that VOC will have to overcome. Because people can equate being different with being outsiders.

That was a long way to say that while I'm hopeful that one day that Jackson will be everything change-minded people want it to be, it will be difficult to impossible to actually bring about. And maybe what I think of Jackson, MS, is one of the things that make it what it is.

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