Pick up a paper and the headlines are likely filled with trouble and unrest. Last year, the nation watched in anguish as cable news displayed the riots resulting from anger in Ferguson, Missouri. The racial tension was not confined to that region as protests and violence erupted across the country from Seattle to Downtown Davidson as students and teachers alike participated in a “Die-in.”
Spectators attending the annual Christmas in Davidson event looked on as protesters lay in the streets, their hands behind their backs, in a silent protest to a not guilty verdict. Christmas carols fell silent as the discontent seeped into the evening Yule Tide event
The last few weeks has seen our community gripped in a much less violent demonstration at the recent Kerrick trial of a white police officer accused of using unnecessary force in the attempted arrest and subsequent death of a black man. The mistrial again provoked demonstrations in the minds of some that somehow justice did not prevail.
Frustration, anger, and tension are not just confined to race as our state legislature in Raleigh finds rural lawmakers pitted against their urban counterparts. Perhaps at no other time in history has our state been so starkly divided between communities that are growing and those who are not.
Look no further than here at Lake Norman as we wrestle with the notion of tolling what many consider our main street – I77. This year marks my 20th year at the Lake Norman Chamber and at no time have I witnessed an issue which has so bitterly divided our community and region with the “haves” vs the “have nots.”
While transportation and some elected officials would point out that Express Lanes provide “choice” and guaranteed mobility to drivers, opponents which refer to them as “Lexus Lanes” see them as a tax on a “local road” that many simply cannot afford, and in the case of truckers, are prohibited from using.
Against the backdrop of these trying times, I am reminded of the words of the Reverend Martin Luther King. In the midst of the Civil Rights struggle, Dr. King said, “The measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”
The one thing we can be assured is there will be change. Challenges are brought about by change. Today is different than yesterday and tomorrow will be different than today.
Perhaps there is no more stark contrast politically to Rev. King than former President Ronald Regan. Regan too understood diversity when he reminded us, “It’s not enough to be equal in the eyes of God. We must be equal in the eyes of each other.”
In September, the Chamber embraces “Diversity” and recognizes those companies, businesses and individuals who promote and encourage inclusion in their business practices at our annual Diversity Luncheon on September 17th.
As we face each new sunrise, let us move closer to the day, when we as a community, nation, and people find the opportunities in our differences and the strength in our common ground.