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Unity Day and more business
Jonathan Pait
February 17, 2003

Unity Day

In the entire hubbub about the MLK day decision by Greenville County Council, not much was made in the press of the decision to undertake the start of a Unity Day to be celebrated shortly after Thanksgiving Day. The charge given to the committee was to find ways to “celebrate our diversity.” Am I the only one who caught the irony in this? A unity day where we celebrate our diversity?

Seems to me that we would be better off putting a focus on unity during our unity day. Focusing on the things that divide us -- even if it is a “celebration” -- does not aid a quest for unity. Hey, I have a novel idea. Why don’t we find some things that unite us and celebrate those? I’m reminded of that inane slogan that flies in the face of what has made America great; “Our strength is our diversity.” Hogwash! Our strength has been that we channeled our diversity toward an uniting standard and a common dream. The more correct slogan is “Out of many, one.”

Unfortunately, each day brings us closer and closer to a fragmented country living under the slogan; “Out of one, many.” We would do well to remember the words of Lincoln (paraphrasing Matthew 12:25) “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I find that I struggle to share Lincoln’s optimism as expressed in that speech so long ago. Our common standard is being shredded. Our common dream has become a splintering of self-interest.

Business Leaders

I read today in The Greenville News that the “MLK holiday issue concerns business leaders.” Out of the thousands of business owners in Greenville County we hear from the usual suspects:

  • Bob Hughes
  • Minor Mickel Shaw
  • Tommy Wyche (interestingly, they showed a picture of Brad)
  • Hayne Hipp
There was a day when the business community controlled Greenville. Sorry, but gone are the days when two or three business leaders set the future for the county or the city. They certainly have their role, but there will be no more Charlie Daniels and Buck Mickels.

Greenville is more than just some great business experiment. It appears that for some in our area, everything boils down to keeping businesses coming. Greenville gets narrowed down to just some economic animal. “Who cares about the struggles behind the decision, just go ahead and pass the thing so we won’t be embarrassed when we go to trade conferences! Who cares if passing the MLK day just puts a façade over the issue? That isn’t the point, we need to make sure we are just like everybody else.”

The jury is certainly still out on whether this struggle we face will actually hurt business. Wyche tells The Greenville News, “They don’t just tell you, ‘We’re not coming down there because you are discriminating.’ They just quietly go to a more friendly, a more open community.” Okay, Mr. Wyche, then why don’t you follow them? If Greenville is so horrible, why do you live here? We are not perfect, but doing something just because everyone else is doesn’t always work best.

I remember the last issue that had these people up in arms; the pro-family resolution. Man, that was going to send Greenville back into the dark ages. No one would want to settle in Greenville. Yes, it is true that we lost the homosexual parade and perhaps some homosexual business went northwest to Asheville, but overall, what did we lose?

Don’t get me wrong. There is a problem. It needs to be addressed. Greenville has a unique opportunity during this struggle. We don’t need leaders who just want to throw a Band-Aid over a wound. If we can get beyond the sound-bytes and stubbornness (on both sides) Greenville could be a “shining light on a hill” in more important things than just our pocketbooks.

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