Over the past five days, The Telegraph’s “Macon in the mirror” series has given a glimpse of the city like no other in recent memory. How we see ourselves is a critical ingredient of our future.
Why use a mirror? It is not a perfect device; too many times the image we see is a ghost from the past -- the ways things were -- and at other times, we see things as we wish they were. But the wrinkles and warts, already known but viewed anew from the perspective of our neighbors, reveal that we may all be looking at the same image.
The image is not perfect by any means. It is shaped by misconceptions and old prejudices, but it is also shaped by purpose and hope for the future.
From residents who have lived their entire lives in the city to newcomers, the image in the mirror is largely positive.
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The series introduced us to residents who are normally invisible, judged only by what part of town they live in.
Who would have assumed 87-year-old Constance Parson, living on the edge of Pio Nono right across the avenue from a shuttered elementary school where her mother was principal, taught mathematics at colleges all over the South -- she with her quiet dignity and conversational bottle tree?
The mirror also sent images of a community not consumed by fear. A community where it is safe to raise a family. A city that’s not too big or too small. A city whose residents see the possibilities.
Did the mirror reflect a city where everyone’s happy? No. But did the mirror’s reflection show a city where everyone -- even those in dire circumstances -- felt downtrodden? Also no.
The mirror didn’t hide the issues of poverty along one of our main arteries, Pio Nono Avenue. Those issues were apparent as reporter Joe Kovac Jr. attempted to get beyond the data and statistics and probe deeper into the lives of those who live and work along the 5-mile stretch of road that reveals so much about us.
As we progress, we will have to gaze in the mirror again. In fact, we should do so often. Is our hair combed? Do our clothes match?
The image we see will change over time. We have to keep looking to keep focused on the direction we want the city to go.