Do we have our priorities right on life?

Published 12:01 am Sunday, August 12, 2018

Have we got our emotions about life and death all mixed up?

That question was suggested as a side note in a recent sermon I heard.

The pastor pointed out that Christians often celebrate the birth of a child and mourn the loss of adults.

Further he suggested that was all wrong.

As Christians, we know that children are entering a broken world and will face more and more challenges as their years move on, the pastor said. Spiritually, they’ll face a more difficult world than their parents and grandparents.

And adults, ones who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, shouldn’t fear death, but welcome it as the earthly death means moving closer to their Lord.

So why is it that we do just the opposite, celebrating new life and mourning death?

It’s because most of us look at the world through our own, selfish eyes.

Babies make us feel young again, and we’re excited at the thought of a new life entering our world.

And with deaths, we’re usually saddened by what the person’s earthly departure means to us. We’ll no longer be able to see them, hug them or talk with them.

People in our lives can sometimes become like possessions of a sort, something we enjoy having around and believe will always be with us.

Years ago I heard a song called “Souvenirs” performed by John Prine and Steve Goodman.

The song starts off with simple, but meaningful lyrics:

“All the snow has turned to water

“Christmas days have come and gone.

“Broken toys and faded colors are all that’s left to linger on.

“I hate graveyards and old pawnshops.

“For they always bring me tears. I can’t forgive the way they rob me of my childhood souvenirs.

“Memories they can’t be bought.

“They can’t be won at carnivals for free.

“Well it took me years to get those souvenirs, and I don’t know how they slipped away from me …”

The song continues, but the idea that our lives can be filled with our life’s souvenirs is a lasting one.

All too often we are focused on the evidence for our mental scrapbook, the smiling happy selfie photograph, if you will, the appearance of enjoyment for others rather than actual enjoyment for ourselves. We collect individual souvenirs rather than collective memories.

Imagine how much different all of our lives — and our community for that matter — would be if we could worry less about looking good for others and posturing for political position and simply focus on being good.

That’s utterly counter to our normally selfish, sinful nature, but with the support of others, we can change our behavior, even if just a little bit each day.

Just like most communities, ours is filled with divisiveness. But our fate will depend upon whether the community allows the things that divide us to drive the conversation.

Like the preacher’s message and song’s lyrics, if we allow, the things we have lost can ruin our enjoyment of the things we have now and the loss of a souvenir or two cannot truly take away the good memories we have.

How can our community overcome our innate desire to focus on our own needs and desires and work for the greater good?

It’s a question we should all ask ourselves. Are we mourning the things Natchez has lost or are we celebrating the things we have and where we’re headed?

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.