On a daily, small-town basis, shouldn’t we be happier?

I know the new apartments unhinge some, the Western Connector is on the top of a list of DOT projects, along with Midland, and these are setting more than a few heads of hair on fire, but look at what we do have:

Still a free press. You may disagree with The Pilot, but you are still free to write and criticize it and have that printed. You are not forced to subscribe or read it. I personally think you should read it, because when I first came to the area nine years ago, knowing almost no one, it was how I got some idea about who governs, who runs what and what events we might want to try as newbies. Without a local paper, rumor and deceit become your news.

We still have vital small businesses and new ones opening quite frequently. Homegrown ideas are being made, distributed and sold right here, Sure, the big boxes are down on 15-501, but our own Riveter, Brewery, restaurants, potters and consignment stores are still here. For heaven’s sake, we have a wonderful independent bookstore in downtown Southern Pines! The Country Bookshop is enough to make anyone happy.

We still have The Sunrise — one screen, largely volunteer-run and serving us the old-fashioned way. Popcorn, old-style seating, and the modern convenience of The Met in HD, The Bolshoi, and — though not often enough — the National Theatre of London are all on offer.

Having just spent a little time in the ER for what I feared was a broken foot, but was something more like a sprain, I can happily report that FirstHealth Moore Regional, though uber busy, is doing its job well. For those who may have been in for a longer stint, if you are not being viewed at Powell’s, you are feeling better and are grateful that the hospital is so close.

Lucky enough to fly a small-engine plane? We have just the place for you right down the road. Moore Regional Airport, like any other institution, may have its ups and downs (not pun intended), but we have it right here.

We have restaurants that range from homestyle (Soup and More, Rhett’s) to fine dining (Chef Warren, Wolcott’s, EOL) to name a few. We could use some Indian food and a few more versions of Chinese, but you can make do very well around here.

Golf. That’s all I need to say.

So. Should we not be rejoicing in the fact that the Town Council is having a meeting about the dreaded Connector? Should we not find some solace that no matter what side of the fence you stand on, voting still matters? That we, as locals, can man committees and councils and boards and volunteer to stuff toys or run a theater? We are very much in the thick of things. That is not necessarily true in every town.

Sandhills Community College is right here. We can take courses and support the men and women reshaping their lives through education. What is more important than a solid start in any career? Be a chef, repair a car, work as a massage therapist, be anything you dream of — because you have an education that can go into the workplace. How great is that?

We are black, white, brown and all colors now. We need less of a divide between us, but I see that happening when I look at the little children pushed in strollers on the weekend. The color and cultural blending of young couples are joyfully producing a generation of children for whom color will not be an issue. They will know that blending is the way of life.

Our many churches of differing views, our local temple and those who worship in other ways should feel safe, accepted and secure here. We do not have a test for who gets to live here. “Worship as you wish” seems to be our way.

We reflect the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

When we feel uncertain about our world, this town or our issues, that paragraph is worth rereading. Within these words rests our happiness. Lack of any of it endangers our lives.


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