Help New Arrivals Learn What Makes Us So Special Here
“Fleeing tyranny? Please leave it behind.” I saw this written on the back windshield of a minivan in South Carolina during a recent visit. At first, I laughed. However, with time I have reflected on how truly profound that simple statement is — especially now.
So, let’s investigate a few facts and then delve into the implications and assumptions of the statement and how we might manage it here in Moore County.
The data is before us. People are fleeing the West Coast and Northeast for the Midwest and South. California and nearly all the Great Lakes states lost seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, while North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Montana and Colorado gained seats. Salt Lake City is nearly overrun with displaced Californians. And while Florida was always the apple of a relocating Northerner’s eye, the Carolinas have caught up in recent years.
In addition to the facts, we see it anecdotally around us every day: more subdivisions, larger schools and more traffic at all hours on the major transportation arteries in town.
What are they fleeing? While it’s all over the news, many of us know first-hand, especially if we’ve recently relocated from one of those areas to our new home in the South. We’re leaving behind high taxes and cost of living; less personal freedom; road congestion; densely populated urban and suburban areas; crime.
Who can blame the relocators? It’s why many of us left as well. It’s been going on since Southern Pines and Pinehurst became towns. However, over the last three decades it picked up momentum. Since COVID-19 and the full-on explosion of progressivism, the pace has increased at an alarming rate.
So, what are we to do, if anything? The opening quote is a good point of departure.
n Communicate. This is the long game. A wise boss once told me that 90 percent of all problems in the Army were the result of poor communication.
And what does communication require? Engagement. If you are a realtor or work in a restaurant or a small business, see yourself as ambassadors of the county, since you are likely the first interaction.
Then, when those new settlers arrive in your neighborhood show them that famed Southern Hospitality. Don’t shun them as those “Damn Yankees.” We only have one chance at a first impression.
Teach them not to be afraid of their right to keep and bear arms. Show them what stewarding the land looks like — and where their food comes from — with visits to local farms. Preach to them some good old-timey religion. Take them to your favorite local coffee shop and restaurant. Invite them to a county or town council meeting.
In short, immerse them in the mores of their new home and they will make them their own.
n The next is just as important. Get involved in the decision-making process. If you value the country ambiance, Southern charm, agricultural heritage, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, then you owe it to yourself and your progeny to drive decisions that maintain what we have.
In my opinion, no one is better situated than the Century Farms families, and those who have streets, towns and businesses named after them and their families to lead this effort.
But anyone can chip in. Run for local office or seek an appointment to the administrative apparatus of the county or your town. Attend county, town and Board of Education meetings, and speak at them. If you are too busy to get involved, someone with different values may.
n Finally, understand basic human nature. While those fleeing tyranny want to change, our nature will not do it on autopilot. A statistics professor taught me, through hard math and science, how difficult it is for humans to change.
So, while these new settlers come with the hopes of leaving behind bad policies, leaders and environs, they will ultimately gravitate to what is known and familiar if left to their own devices.
However, if we deliberately engage them and show them what “right” looks like, they will be more apt to conform to the values of their new homeland. This is to everyone’s benefit.
It is what used to be called a melting pot. People of differing cultures bring their unique dress, foods, language and religion as the spices to the stew. However, the base stock is small government, personal freedom, private property rights, hardworking and egalitarian communities, an unbending acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Constitution and the greatness of the human experiment called America.
The Midwest and South seem to be the last bastions of this most fragile of experiments. Let us be deliberate in maintaining what is drawing new settlers here. It will not happen through osmosis, and we’ll have only ourselves to blame if it doesn’t work out.
Nick Lasala is a Cameron resident and farmer.