02PubPenWhat is happening to our nation? At all levels — national, state and even here in Fayetteville and Cumberland County — the undercurrents of discontent, anger, hate and mistrust are permeating everything we do. It’s hard to comprehend and even harder to articulate.

So first, I say to the cynics: If our nation is so broken, so unjust, so misdirected and unfair, how did we become the greatest nation on earth? How is it that we now enjoy, yet take for granted, all the virtues and benefits of living in a free, civilized and industrialized nation, yet we have factions within our population that refuse to recognize or appreciate how we got here?

We have a history of more than two centuries of strife, hard work, sacrifice, bloody wars, incredible innovation and amazing ingenuity, and here we are … uniquely America. The United States of America! I love the sound of those five words. America is the most envied country in the world, yet we are a nation that is quickly becoming cynical and unappreciated.

Perhaps too many of our citizens think we have reached the pinnacle of our civilization, leaving them nothing left to achieve, learn or accomplish. If this is the case, the only recourse they have to justify their existence is to find fault with our existing government, laws, institutions and way of life, leaving them no alternative but to engage themselves in dismantling it while, ironically, hoping to discover something better. Well, here’s a news flash for these discontents: We are a nation of self-made men and women. If you contribute nothing, in the end, you will gain nothing. Why? Because there will be nothing left. No values, history or traditions. 

Yes, people are upset and on-edge over the thoughts and actions of removing monuments and statues that depict American history that certain groups interpret as offensive. Really? So, at what point does this madness stop? Already, many age-old monuments have fallen victim to this craziness. Monuments that had nothing to do with this subjective historic controversy have been vandalized and damaged. This is craziness! What are these people thinking and when and where will it end? What’s next? Will we be forced to ban the term “Southern fried chicken” because some radical group has declared it an offensive racial term? Or, perhaps someone will insist on removing all images of Colonel Sanders because his Kentucky heritage makes him a hurtful symbol of southern hostility  and racism.

Fayetteville and Cumberland County need to pay attention to these sensitive and potentially explosive national phenomena. Case in point: We are not Durham; Greenville, South Carolina; or Ferguson, Missouri. We are Fayetteville, and such comparisons need to stop immediately. We need to focus on looking out for what is best for our citizens and community. And it is not comparing ourselves to other cities and communities that have few commonalities.

This is a critical time for us. The local elections in 2017 and 2018 will predict the true future of the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community. Why? Because by the 2018 elections, we will be “all in.” That’s a poker term meaning we have put up everything we have in hopes of a positive outcome. We will be right in the middle of our $80 – $100 million worth of city/county infrastructure investments — the point of no return. This infrastructure has the potential of generating another $65 million in local economic development in downtown Fayetteville.

So, what is the master plan for managing such an aggressive and muchneeded undertaking? This community will need to elect city and county leaders who are qualified to take on such a vitally important venture. These leaders need to be the best of the best. They need to be dedicated, business-savvy and intelligent — with excellent communication skills. They need to be personable and, most of all, have a positive strategic vision for the future of the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community and a plan on how to obtain it. They must have a clear understanding that very little will be accomplished, few goals and objectives will be met and our quality of life will continue to lag behind other communities as long as divisive egos and arrogance remain paramount between the city of Fayetteville and the county of Cumberland. Forget about attracting industry with lucrative incentives. Once the potential client senses this level of animosity, they’re gone.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. If we examine our past, it will help us define our future. If we ignore our history, we will undoubtedly pay the consequences. We are a great nation, and we have the potential for being a great community. However, we need our leaders to do the right things for the right reasons. That means electing leaders willing to do the right things for the citizens of the community and not what is selfishly and politically advantageous to them. Otherwise, we will continue to pay the consequences and forever be asking ourselves why we can’t be like Durham or Greenville, South Carolina. 

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

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