Humans tend to be an unsatisfied lot.
When the weather is warm, we prefer cool. When the weather is cool, we prefer warm.
When we are young, we wish we were older. When we are old, we wish we were young.
When our grass is green, we are certain there is greener grass.
We have noticed, however, that Meridian seems to hold more than its share of people who focus on the blemish in the mirror rather than the beauty of the whole.
Periodically we publish polls that ask readers if they plan to attend a festival, a sports event, a concert, a play, maybe some other fun event, or stay home. Our betting money is always on the “stay home” option, and we are never wrong.
If we had listed this weekend’s Sucarnochee Revue at the Temple Theater, Jefferson Starship at the MSU-Riley Center, Meridian Mini Maker Faire, Earth’s Bounty, an outing at one of our parks, antiquing at one of our many flea markets or a chair near the window to watch the grass grow in our Friday poll, there would be standing room only at the window.
The same group would be as quick to reply that there’s never anything to do here. They share similar negative opinions of our economic opportunities, public safety and even our people.
Last week, one poll asked, “Would you recommend the Meridian region as a good place to visit? 28 percent said yes, 72 percent said no.
Another poll asked, “Do you plan on attending any State Games of Mississippi events this year?” 4 percent said yes, 96 percent said no.
A third asked, “Are you optimistic about the future of Meridian?” 4 percent said yes, 88 percent said no and 8 percent weren’t sure.
The propensity for negativity bothers us and it should you, too, because the direction of our future will follow the direction of our eyes.
At the end of last month, the Meridian Lauderdale County Tourism office brought in Bill Geist, an expert in destination marketing, to address the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation members’ Business Before Hours’ group.
Geist listed the region’s many attributes, the transportation hub, the natural beauty, the MSU-Riley Center, the soon to open Mississippi Arts & Entertainment Experience, the promise of restoration of the Threefoot Building and so on. He predicted the region was on its way to becoming a premiere destination for tourists, investors, economic development and jobs.
Now, Mr. Geist was a guest and he is paid to say nice things about the places he visits, but his message rang true.
We’ve encountered other guests to Meridian and we have heard similar reactions. Visitors are impressed by the MSU Riley Center, notice the architecture, are blown away if they get a peak inside the Max, admire the cultural history and events, and enjoy the beauty and recreation opportunities at Bonita Lakes Park and Okatibbee Lake. They notice the businesses that are here rather than those that have closed.
Of course, we do the same when we travel and picture ourselves in another setting. Everything can be new and exciting when we abandon our cares and view the setting freshly.
As Geist said, “Sometimes when you’re living it, you don’t feel it.”
Our community is not without flaws. We have helped identify problems, too. Constructive criticism can improve our future, but a constant stream of negativity becomes a disease and will do no good.
Another point by Geist is well taken. In an age when the world is so connected and so small, focusing on our blemishes, not acknowledging the good around us, leads to a self-fulfilling prophesy.
The next time negative thoughts about our community and opportunities come to mind, we recommend instead of stating them you ask yourself, “What have I done to make things better?”