What do we all have in common?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When TIME Magazine, in 1991, asked Americans the question “What do we have in common?” they got some deep replies.

“We have a history of treasuring our sameness, but we should also respect our diversity,” said Renato Rosaldo, an anthropology professor at Stanford University.

And they got some obvious answers.

“We have denim jeans,” said Patricia Limerick a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

This Sunday, our newspaper hopes to address the deep and the obvious with our annual Profile magazine. This year’s theme is “Common Bonds: Our essential elements.”

It doesn’t take long to realize that every resident of the Miss-Lou has a lot in common.

Whether rich, poor, black or white, a few fundamental opinions, beliefs and connections tie us into a pretty tightly wound ball.

Whether your tie that binds is ridiculously good fried chicken or the simple closeness of family, we think you’ll find something in Profile to which you can relate.

Like the Stanford professor said to TIME, it’s an understanding of our commonality that allows us to enjoy our diversity. And, first and foremost, what we have in common is one giant backyard.

We live together, work together, fight together and grow together. Whatever we do will have an impact on our Miss-Lou neighbors.

Though we didn’t plan it that way, our theme this year fits in nicely with the message a group of area leaders has been preaching through community-wide meetings on the idea of regionalism.

Their point is that Natchez, Vidalia and Ferriday will succeed together and falter apart. They are correct, and internalizing that message down to the individual will be the key to the group’s success.

Perhaps the best way to achieve that success is through blue jeans and fried chicken.

In order to work together, we as citizens, need to realize that what happens to you happens to me, as indirectly as it may be.

So let’s start our discussions by pointing out the jeans and chicken.

We’ll have to talk about race relations, and we’ll have to talk about cancer and death. Our bonds aren’t all happy, after all.

But at the end of all the talking, we may just be a bit closer to understanding each other and understanding how to make our community better.

So grab a copy of Profile this Sunday — inside your newspaper and online — and spend some time reading about your friends and neighbors.

We hope by Monday morning you’ll not only be entertained and informed, but ready to talk.

Please share you thoughts with us by calling, writing or sending a letter to the editor.

Maybe we’ll all find a bond we didn’t know we had. If not, we can at least put on our favorite jeans and relish in a plate full of fried chicken.

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.