Let’s strive for unity and wholeness

 

To the Editor:

“I am not a racist!” is what I have repeatedly heard from those advocating for Confederate monuments to remain as they are. To be called a racist is hurtful and scary and usually elicits defensiveness and often anger.

It may help to consider that we all are probably prejudiced or racist to some degree. Our human survival instincts may often lead us unconsciously to connect with, and protect, those similar to us or our perceived “tribes” (e.g. our identifying with a similar racial, ethnic, social, political, economic or geographical group), and to fear or judge those perceived as different from us in dissimilar groups.

The challenge is to shift our minds and hearts from “You vs. Me” to “We and Us.” Let’s strive for unity and wholeness rather than division and differences. I recommend the goal for all of us is to expand the groups we identify with to include more and more groups and eventually the world. We all tend to protest loudly when we feel our fear and pain hasn’t been heard, acknowledged or responded to. If we want others to stop protesting, then we must listen with empathy, compassion and supportive action.

It seems that most of us believe that “I am not a racist.” Prejudices are hard to acknowledge when they are often unconscious, unintentional or cultural norms. To acknowledge my overt or covert racist attitudes and behaviors does not mean I am a bad person at the core. It’s more helpful to judge thinking and behavior than one’s personhood. Prejudice can be a product of upbringing, culture and ignorance. However, to understand racism does not excuse it. We are still accountable for our thoughts and actions that degrade or harm others.

We can start by acknowledging that others have been denied “an even playing field” in our country to meet basic human needs and goals. For example, for hundreds of years Blacks have had less access to, and support for, basic rights and services and positions of power. They have suffered greater social injustices and traumatic prejudice, abuse and killings.

The removal or altering of Confederate monuments is a step toward removing symbols and messages that promote or condone individual and systemic racist attitudes. “If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem.”

John Ritchie,

Sylva

 

Let’s update presentation of history

 

To the Editor:

 

I have a sign in my kitchen that says, “Sylva, it doesn’t get much better than this!” I truly believe this is true, having lived here for almost 40 years. I’ve raised five children in this lovely mountain town while working in Cherokee as a health care provider. I love the schools, the businesses and the people that make up our sweet town.

Without question, Sylva has the most beautiful courthouse in our state. Also without question, the Civil War commemorative statue in front of our courthouse is a work of art that evokes feelings of nostalgia for a mythical past that sadly was not easy for the non-white citizens of this county.

My question is this: Why this particular statue and why do we need to keep it in this place of honor? Our county has contributed many brave men and women to all of America’s wars ... starting with the Revolution, through the major world wars and onto Korea, Vietnam and now our Middle Eastern engagements. This particular statue represents only a segment of our population and a small fragment of time from 1861-1865. Over the last 155 years, there have been many more contributions from this community to our country than just this one particular war. To be honest, this war was about tearing apart our unity as one nation indivisible under God with liberty and justice for all.

Sylva is better than this. Let’s represent all of our citizens and commission local artists to create a beautiful apiece of art to honor all of our ancestors rather than just lonely Sylva Sam. He has been witnessing all the good changes in our nation and our town for 100 years, and I think he would agree. We updated our magnificent courthouse by turning it into a library and a public gathering place. Let’s update the courthouse statue to be inclusive of all of our citizens.

Mary Anne Farrell,

Sylva

 

When will it be normal again?

 

To the Editor:

Sunday I go on bike rides around Whittier. Recently I stopped at a coffee shop in Bryson City before my ride. The shop requires masks to enter and 6 feet social distancing in the dining and order areas. During my meal one of the employees asked the owner, “When will it be normal again?” Someone answered, “When we have someone normal in the White House!” The place cheered.

The owner explained to me how her business had grown recently while another shop that does not require masks and social distancing has just a few customers who can be abusive and swear. That business is about to close.

Masks and social distancing are great for business until we elect normal persons for our next president as well as congressional and Senate seats. Biden/Harris, Cunningham and Davis sound pretty normal to me.

Ron Robinson,

Sylva

 

Leave statue as it is

 

To the Editor:

In response to “The rachet of freedom,” Aug. 6 Letters: The Confederate monument at the Jackson County Library should be left as it is, permanently.

“Those who do not know their history are destined to repeat it.” Two points about the War between the States should be established: It was the North, not the South that started the war. The South had formed another nation: The Confederate States of America. It was the North, not the South, that attacked first by attempting to blockade the Charleston, South Carolina harbor.

The results were disastrous for all. Both sides had tragic repercussions. Today, all peoples must put down their swords and make peace. Our nation is as all others, coming into a time of realizing that we must work to make our Constitution and Bill of Rights be what it was intended. On all sides of this fiasco there has been continued dishonesty and disrespect, along with lawlessness.

Bob Morris,

Webster

 

Agriculture and climate

 

To the Editor:

In the early days of the COVID-19 we had a lot of questions. Would the virus spread, and where? We now know it’s with us here in Jackson County.

I know you’ve experienced going to the store to find that what you needed wasn’t available. At the grocery store we still can’t get all we want/need and prices are up, but don’t we need to thank the farmers and truckers for keeping us fed during these tumultuous times? America’s farmers are at the beginning of that supply chain, including growers in Western North Carolina.

Climate change, with its unpredictable precipitation, rising heat and stronger extreme weather events, brings another level of uncertainty to America’s agriculture sector. It’s time for Congress to enact legislation that will combat climate change and give farmers more support!

Encouragingly, a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives have introduced the Growing Climate Solutions Act (S3894). This legislation is the incentive for farmers and foresters to engage in sustainable practices by helping them to access lucrative carbon credits. The bill makes it easier for farmers to get paid for emissions they reduce and carbon they sequester. This is great news for farmers, foresters and the planet since agriculture and forestry contribute about 10.5 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

In North Carolina climate change is already impacting our farmers. Our state experts note that the last 10 years are the warmest on record for N.C. and 2019 was the single hottest year. Severe storms, flooding, high temperatures, drought and other climate stressors contribute to crop and livestock loss. Climate science makes clear that temperatures will rise, there will be more rain, more intense hurricanes, more severe storms and more flooding.

How many of these impacts have you seen in WNC? The governor issued Executive Order 80 that calls for a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases.

The purposes of the Growing Climate Solutions Act (S 3894) are to encourage sustainable, climate-friendly farming and forestry practices; facilitate the participation of farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners with greenhouse gas credits; provide technical and financial assistance. The activities included are land or soil carbon sequestration; emissions reductions from fuel choice or reduced fuel use; livestock emission reduction; on-farm energy generation; energy feedstock production; fertilizer use emissions reduction; reforestation; forest management, including improving harvesting practices and thinning diseased trees; avoidance of the conversion of forests; and grassland management.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said that “while farmers are uniquely affected by the climate crisis, they are also a critically important part of the solution.” Congress should work together to pass bipartisan legislation that values farmers’ contributions to feeding America and solving the challenge of climate change.

As of this writing, it is not known whether Senators Burr and Tillis support this legislation. Please use all means to encourage their support.

Gene Tunnell,

Sylva