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A time to heal

By Delcenia Turner
Posted Thursday, December 21, 2006

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“To everything, there is a season…..a time of war, a time of peace. "
Ecclesiastes 3:8

Pittsboro, NC - I am revising the writing of this article because when it was first written the new commissioners had not yet taken office. The election had ended; a large part of the majority of people who voted for change in the May primary, also voted in the November general election to keep the system for choosing commissioners to serve our county intact instead of changing to district voting. The war of words, accusations and disrespectful actions preceding the election ripped through relationships like a chainsaw rips through trees. It was not the same ugliness that usually surfaces in an election for candidates; this election was about a life-changing issue, something people are far more likely to react to and become involved in.

Needless to say, it was an exceedingly painful sight to watch as friends vitriolically questioned and criticized the integrity and motivations of opposing lifelong friends and associates. Personal casualties were even more hurtful and introspective. I felt then that the county would not heal quickly if at all and that at any rate, it would take time. I also believed, naively I suppose, that people on opposing sides would retract their gauntlets and attempt to reconcile with a new understanding of each other’s perspectives.

Whatever I believed, it seemed logical to me that having no further options, everyone would rally around the new governing body and embrace the keen commissioners’ vision for Chatham County’s future. I expected a high level of optimism and cooperation that would facilitate our healing. I believed this could happen because both sides of the conflict persistently emphasized that their fight was based primarily, if not solely, on their love for Chatham County. It was with my stated beliefs and reasoning that I first wrote my humble appeal for peace and suggested what I thought might be a reasonable prescription for healing our county.

My reverie however, lasted only until the evening of December 4, 2006, the date of the new commissioner’s first public meeting. On that evening, an uglier reality flew in the face of my best intentions, as I witnessed a most unbecoming display of hostility and unjustified suspicion directed towards our top level of government. I was astounded as I heard harsh utterances, uninformed allegations and threats form the basis of our new commissioners’ very first public input.

My thoughts wafted back to the August public hearings when these same people sanctimoniously chastised the public about vituperately “disrespecting” duly elected representatives, even under justifiable circumstances. Yet, here they were, propelling their misplaced umbrage towards these innocent and good men who have assumed the burden of taking our county to a higher, more prosperous level, despite the excess development baggage and general mistrust of government left by their predecessors.

I confess to becoming distressful and angry all over again, but just for a moment.

After observing a few of the more virulent of the spoilers socializing indiscriminately at the small, tasteful reception after the meeting, I realized that my initial instincts were right after all; it is indeed possible for us to rebuild our bridges and heal. With much self-examination, many open and honest educational discussions, some balanced cultural questions and exchanges, it can be done. Actually, it must be done because larger concerns are going to demand our collective attention very soon; our country can not sustain guns and butter at the same time much longer. Even as I write this, the Pentagon has requested 170 billon more funds to sustain the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007, while domestic programs are being sacrificed here at home. Even pro-war hawks can not argue that reality. That issue however, is a discussion for another venue, perhaps the bulletin board.

Our immediate concern should be taking the steps necessary to get back on track, to solidify and re-solidify our relationships, realizing that what we have in common is far more valuable than what divides us; we need each other to survive and that need will become more urgent as time passes. There are many intelligent, vibrant and caring people in Chatham County that can begin the process of healing where they are. Are you one of them? The December issue of THE HISTORICAL NEWS prophetically stated in its synopsis of Chatham County’s progress over 200 years that,

“Probably no other county in the state has a more exciting future than does Chatham as the 200 year old county faces a second 200 years.

We have been told from various sources that we are a unique county. Let’s prove that statement true by accelerating human evolution to a nonpareil level. We have done so with technology; we can do it with ourselves. All five of our commissioners are unique in themselves; they will help us grow. With that in mind, let’s dissent respectfully when there is something tangible and vital to dissent, not in the absence of same, if as you say, you love Chatham County.

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