Ira David Wood, in his delightful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” sings a song, “What’s Christmas to you is humbug to me.”
That pretty well sums up the prevailing attitude in North Carolina and the nation today.
How else can you explain people suing the state because they don’t like the choice made to build a bridge conveying tourists and residents along our Outer Banks? And how do you justify state officials’ response by insulting these people and calling them names?
Want more examples?
How about picketing businesses because the CEO has political beliefs with which you don’t agree? Or arresting people because they peaceably assemble to protest actions taken by government leaders? How about suing the state because you don’t like vouchers for students to attend private schools and, conversely, creating those vouchers because you don’t approve of the ways children are educated in the public schools?
We could continue but the point is made.
We got a glimmer of Christmas hope this week when leaders in Congress amazed us by agreeing to a budget for the coming two years. Nobody got all they wanted but party leadership displayed an all-too-rare show of bipartisanship in reaching consensus.
Of course the humbugs are threatening to sidetrack the agreement, saying representatives from their philosophy “caved in.”
Need they be reminded that this country was founded on and has existed for almost 250 years because people of goodwill were willing to compromise and work together for the common good in government?
The Declaration of Independence itself came after many months of debate and compromise. After the war for independence we compromised in forming a federal government. When it became obvious this structure of governance wasn’t working we debated for many months a new Constitution, only ratified when a compromise, The Bill of Rights, was added and North Carolina agreed to join.
From our very beginnings and throughout this nation’s history we’ve had serious disagreements but have been able to keep going by compromising.
We’re not suggesting for one minute that reforms and changes aren’t needed. We acknowledge that yesterday’s solutions won’t always succeed for today’s challenges. Neither would we suggest that there is no place for people with principles to stand up for what they believe.
But the spirit today is that one side must win while the other loses and disagreement on one point is sufficient justification in vilifying and demonizing those with whom we disagree.
How’s that working for us?
We all remember three ghosts visit Dickens’ character, Scrooge. The first reminds him of happier times, the second portrays a realistic picture of the present and the third depicts a rather scary future.
Perhaps it might serve us well to think back to those times when we trusted those in public service (or in any sector of our culture, for that matter), believed they operated for the common good and worked together to get things done instead of blocking action.
A realistic and impartial viewpoint of current times would help contrast the present state with earlier times, while a frank assessment of our future if might startle us to take action. Scooge’s transformation is one we could all embrace. Humbug people don’t have to stay that way.
Campbell is the executive producer and moderator of NC SPIN, a weekly panel discussion on state issues that airs on WMYT “MY TV12” at 10 a.m. on Sundays and on WJZY “CW46” at 6:30 a.m. and 11:05 p.m. on Sundays and on WFMY-TV at 5:30 a.m. Sundays.