As we begin the Shelter-In-Place directive issued by Governor Reeves, I would like to offer a few words of encouragement. Olive Branch is a wonderful place to live, not necessarily because of where it is on a map, but because of the people who call this their home. It is our hometown. It was here before any of us who are living were born. Lord willing, it will be here for a hometown for our descendants many years from now. OB survived the Yellow Fever epidemic, the Spanish flu, the Great Depression, two World Wars, the polio epidemic, countless recessions, and a host of other trials and tribulations that are common to man. Throughout each one, we have learned, that by God’s grace people from OB will not “merely endure: [we] will prevail.” (W. Faulkner).
Therefore, during this unprecedented time, I am urging each of us to do what is necessary to protect the people of Olive Branch. I understand the impact that this crisis is having on our town from an economic and social standpoint. It is painful to watch businesses close, friends lose jobs, and churches not gather. However, we are told by our local medical experts that the physical health, safety, and well-being of our loved ones is in immediate peril. Your compliance with the Governor’s order is the right thing to do, the civic-minded thing to do, and the legal thing to do.
Since the Governor issued his Shelter-in-Place Executive Order I have spent hours on phone calls with local businesses and individuals who have asked for help in identifying ways their business or personal activities may stay open and ongoing. May I say, with all the respect and courtesy I can muster, that if you are wondering whether your operation or activity is essential, then the likelihood is that it is not. I am urging each of us, especially those in doubt, to please comply with spirit of the Governor’s Order, and stay home and/or cease all operation and activity of non-essential business. The Order is clear that unless an exception applies, “all individuals currently living in the State of Mississippi are ordered to stay at home or in their place of residence.” Yes, there are numerous exceptions for businesses and other operations that are critical for the functioning of our society, public safety, and your individual well-being. And yes, for some of us, the Order will have a dramatic impact on our livelihood. However, I am convinced based on the advice of our local health experts that the alternative would be far more devastating. Our choices over the coming days will affect life, health, and safety.
History tells us that locales that respond to pandemics early and aggressively may actually experience better health and economic outcomes than locales that ignore threats or delay responses. I am urging each of us to expend our energy between now and April 20th seeking ways to comply with the Order, care for our families, perform truly essential functions, and enable both the public safety and public health communities to spend their limited time and resources on addressing the pandemic. Public health and public safety resources are precious commodities in these times, and we cannot afford to expend them on efforts to accommodate those who do not wish to abide by the Governor’s order.
Over the coming days and weeks, please worship (and give) online, as I will be doing with my church. Please pray with your family, as I will be doing with my wife and children. Please stay home unless you have truly essential work, travel, or activities to which you need to attend. As you are able to do so in compliance with the Order, engage in individual outdoor recreation – it is good for the body and soul. Please designate a single shopper for your family and go buy a reasonable amount of groceries, or order delivery or curb-side from a local restaurant. Consider pre-paying your barber, salon operator, or other small business for a few haircuts or something else you regularly use to help them during this period of shutdown. Read a book. Resist the temptation to respond with fear, anxiety, or greed. Trust God.
I am convinced that we will come through this situation stronger than before, particularly if we each consider the greater public good.
“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:4-5
Mayor Scott B. Phillips, Jr.

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