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GUEST COLUMN: An opportunity to write a better story in Rome

It’s time to look forward.

Our existence on earth is enhanced by deeds of love, kindness and peace. Rome, Georgia — yes Rome, Georgia — has the power and ability to change the world.

The recent damage of a Confederate statue here in Rome should make us all dig deep in our creativity and ask ourselves, “How can Rome take such an event, come together and show the world our love for one another?”

The answer is love and forgiveness. Finding the real answer in our hearts and the right motivation to be examples for our children and ‘do the right thing.’

First, a few questions:

How should we tell and show our children the proper way to handle this situation? The answer is not, “We live in a civilized society and this should not occur!” The answer is not “Replace a statue with taxpayer money to show people we Romans won’t stand for this.” Those answers have pride and negativity written all over them.

The answer is, “Do the opposite,” and show the world that Romans of all backgrounds are saddened, but not shaken and not surprised. Romans know God is in control. God has now given Romans a platform to show the world and our children need be more concerned about the mistreatment of a people and not about the existence or history of a war that was fought to persecute that same people. Schools call this bullying, why should adults rationalize it as anything else?

My recommendation:

Remove the base of the statue from its obscure position on Myrtle Hill Cemetery and let’s bring it down to Broad Street. Use the base as it is and let’s showcase a statue on top of two Romans of different races who are — or have made — a difference with race relations in our community. My vote would be for a Charles Smith, a Christa Jackson or Carey Ingram. Perhaps Napoleon Fielder, Buddy Mitchell or Samuel Burrell. Maybe a Rene Fountain or Phillip Gaines? There are many possibilities in our loving and diverse community.

For you see, these folks love people and only see people with struggles and that bleed red. Truth be known, don’t we all have issues and at times we all struggle? I know I do. At every intersection these people mentioned above look for an opportunity to make a difference, not a point. They take the high road and understand the battles within. Let’s create a visible focal point that daily reminds us of what we can do locally and what is good and noble. With such a visible reminder, perhaps this statue would enable us to tell two powerful stories, the before and the after. As author Donald Miller says, “Life is all about writing a better story!”

Finally, the Bible tells us:

Love one another as I have loved you. John 13:34

We demand our children move forward and not live in the rearview mirror, why should we?

Count me in for the first donation and let’s cut the red tape, move the statue, nominate two heroes and show the world that love, not hate, is alive and well in Rome, Georgia.

Mike Nichols is a resident of Rome.