Sometimes the stories that make a reader feel a little bit better never get written.
They are often fleeting in time and very situational. The narrative often loses out to another big news report when it is the small daily events that will, in the end, contribute more to the quality of life.
I would like to relate one of those events that may be more meaningful to me than to other people, but it is important that I put the event down on paper for my own sake.
It is especially important to write up the interplay, since I am a person of strong convictions and I have to make a conscious effort to look at something from a viewpoint that I do not find comfortable.
The basis of this story is my very negative feelings about the use of rowdy public demonstrations to impact public policy.
Please note that the word “rowdy” translates into property damage by a mob, unlawful trespass, importing professional demonstrators, organization passed off as spontaneous reaction, shouting down a speaker, forced occupancy, bullhorns and chanting. Rowdy does not include petitioning, letter writing, professional advertising and other generally peaceful means to get the attention of policymakers.
Recently, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory traveled to Pinehurst to participate in the opening of the U.S. Opens. At a press conference in Tufts Park, the chief executive reminded those on hand that the eyes of the world would be on this state and on Moore County as the competition unfolded.
He turned and introduced members of his Cabinet, who in turn took a minute or so to talk about improvements that would last long after the last tent had been packed up and moved to another venue. The major roadwork was finished on time, much to the relief of the worrywarts. And Transportation Secretary Tony Tata pointed out that the new bridge on Morganton Road over U.S. 1 had been opened to traffic one year early.
Secretary Susan Kluttz, of the Department of Cultural Resources, announced the governor’s “Art That Moves You” initiative, pointing to new golf-themed directional road signs, clever airport installations and planned beautification projects throughout North Carolina. Only a real sourpuss would not feel the uplifting dialog, especially in the early afternoon Carolina sunshine.
Preparation for the crowds of visitors included programs sponsored with the intention of introducing golf fans to the quiet elegance of the communities that are a daily part of local residents’ life. Special efforts were necessary to bring tired visitors to commercial downtowns, and The Village Chapel decided to open its doors to the visitors. Invitations were issued by means of The Pilot.
McCrory agreed to offer the first lecture of a series presented by the chapel membership, and he arrived with aides and members of his leadership team.
McCrory, sharing the program with Stephen Gourley, the church’s talented organist, spoke quietly about responsibility, faith and personal humility. His message was simple and cut across ideological lines and partisan policy positions.
The most important dialogue, in my view, took place during the chapel lecture between the governor and local representatives of the Moore County chapter of the NAACP.
The state NAACP organization and its leader, the Rev. William J Barber II, have organized what I would call rowdy protests in Raleigh. Moore County members of the organization have participated in the protests. I would not publically criticize the organizers of Moral Monday because I believe that any comment I might make it would accomplish nothing to move the ball forward.
It is unlikely that the local chapter’s president, O’Linda Gillis, and Gov. McCrory will agree about many issues of public policy. That is the right of the organization and individuals like Gillis. The NAACP contingent sat in respectful silence while the governor spoke and then engaged in serious conversation at the end of the program.
I cannot speak for the governor, but it would have been unlikely that McCrory and his leadership team did not appreciate the quiet dialogue and civil exchange with Gillis and her fellow chapter members. They had their say and made their points, and at some time the NAACP view of certain issues will help influence change.
Social evolution is a slow process with a lot of trial-and-error, and the result is often a compromise that makes no one completely happy. I believe that Gillis, as I watched her at the chapel, is a positive part of that social evolution.
It was one of those small positive events that leaves us with a good feeling.