OPINION: Governing priority remains making life better

My ole buddy and mentor, longtime Lee County Chancery Clerk John A. “Red” Rasberry, always prefaced his salutations with a grand proclamation, “Thanks to God and the good people of Lee County.”
Even as a young lad growing up on the farm near Plantersville, I understood Red’s attitude and gratitude in his signature statement. Suffice it to say, thanks to God and the good people of Lee County, I will begin my 27th year of service in the Mississippi House of Representatives on January 5, 2010. The Department of Archives and History, which I revere, has verified this to be the longest tenure of legislative service for a Lee countian since the county was formed in l866. I hope and pray daily that my service has not been in vain.
In this most beautiful season of the year it is good to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.
The New Year is nigh, and so is the 2010 Legislative session.
Serving the public is not easy work. I am a keen observer of human nature and was gifted from God with the attribute of generally loving life, the Master’s creation and all his creatures (I’m still struggling with snakes, although 27 years in politics has given me abundant exposure).
I sincerely believe things happen for a reason – that the all inclusive Providence has a master plan for all of us if we will just avail ourselves. At a recent gathering of the brethren at my farmhouse for fellowship and philosophy, I came up with the rhetorical question, “If God is indeed the Father of all of us, are we not all then brothers and sisters?”
Since childhood, I have inquisitively sought to answer some basic questions of life inclusion. As a lad, I remember being aghast that my little black friends went to a different school than me. I remember the shock to my system when some of my elders expressed glee when President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King were assassinated.
I, too, well remember my first day of employment at the old McGrath-Rasberry Funeral Home in May, l973.
“Why in the world would anyone want to pursue a life work in the dismal trade of death,” I asked myself. The years have tempered and matured my perspective on my life’s works -almost 37 years in funeral service and 27 years in the House.
My works are really about transformation – as a legislator and as a southern undertaker. In death, my job is to build a bridge from death back to life for, death is the greatest of transformations – when the human body becomes frail and must turn to dust not because life is over but because it is being changed. The frail body gets out of the way of the spirit so that it can burst forth to live and dance forever.
My grandmother Monts always said, “Life ain’t no dress rehearsal, it’s the real thing!”
So true it is.
It is likewise in my legislative service.
Every vote I cast, every gesture on behalf of my people has the remarkable ability to transform lives by either making them more frail and vulnerable or making them strong and whole.
So, even in these most austere financial times, you will have to pardon me as I continue a longstanding desire to make life better, stronger, opportunities more accessible and the playing field more level for all our people.
The bottom line is, the same transforming Steve Holland will be on the job Jan. 5 uplifting public education, affordable and accessible physical and mental heath care, looking after mothers and little children, providing the greatest level of dignity and support our elders so strongly deserve, good transportation systems, enriching the arts and letters, strongly support public broadcasting, libraries and centers of learning everywhere.
This my my hope, this is my prayer and this is my creed. I ask for the strength of Sampson, the wisdom of Solomon, and the courage of David in fulfilling my responsibilities. The job is tough but I am resolved to do the very best I can – “thanks to God and the good people of Lee County.”

Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, represents Lee County in the Legislature. He is a business owner in private life. Contact him at hollandfuneraldirectors@comcast.net.

Rep. Steve Holland