Last week, through my sister, I learned that a friend of hers in Raleigh had lost his little shepherd mutt named Mocha. Rick and Mocha are inseparable and his friends knew he'd never be the same if they couldn't find her. As the days unfolded, person after person joined in the search to bring Mocha home. They gave up their evenings after work to search for her and they spread the word on social media to keep an eye out for a shy, fearful dog unlikely to come to anyone who called her. A sighting of Mocha at a specific crossroads would be quickly posted to Facebook, sending people to their cars to canvas the area in hopes of finding one lost and hungry little dog. Soon, complete strangers were following the story and searching for Mocha. In the end, a miracle of sorts occurred.
Guided by the scent of so many people tramping a pathway there, Mocha found her way home after a week and was reunited with her owner. It was a story with a happy ending -- and one that is a great example of the spirit so many North Carolinians embody: a love of all creatures, goodwill toward their neighbors and a willingness to get up and prove it. It appears that even in our big cities, a small-town mentality prevails (yet another reason why it's great to call North Carolina home).
Now let me tell you about the people searching for Mocha -- most were born at the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation and raised in the 70's. They retain their love for the personal freedom granted in that long-gone era. If not old hippies themselves, they are certainly old hippy admirers whose outlook on life is tempered with an understanding of what it means to be blue-collar or live paycheck-to-paycheck. They work hard every day for a too-low wage and, when work is done, they like to gather to share a few well-deserved beers before they head home. Most of the men still wear their hair long -- there's more than a few gray ponytails in that bunch. Few, if any, of the women had the luxury of staying home to look after their kids. They're strong and they don't take any guff. In short, these are good people who work hard, pay their taxes, help out neighbors and go to the aid of strangers because it's the right thing to do. That makes them the best of what our state has to offer.
Why then do they no longer have a voice in our government?
Like millions of other North Carolinians who do not fit the narrow mold of the people now controlling our state, they have been disenfranchised. Their viewpoints are no longer heard and their priorities are immaterial to the conservative, relentlessly rightwing men and women busily imposing their extreme social agenda on us all.
Yes, our once-wonderful state is under the control of people who view anyone with a gray ponytail as a troublemaker. Our state is under the control of people who see anyone who does not attend a church exactly like theirs as damned. Our state is under the control of people who have been taught to view anyone who is different from them in any way as the enemy. They lack respect for those who disagree with them. They have shown they are not willing to stand up for the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves. They do not listen to what others try to say. They judge by what they see on the surface and their judgment is swift and intractable. In short, they do not work for the people of North Carolina. They work for themselves and "their kind" only.
North Carolina as we know it cannot survive with this kind of mentality in Raleigh. If these people are allowed to wage what they see as a holy war to reclaim the state for its "rightful owners," it will be all of us in North Carolina who pay the price.
State policy cannot and should not be controlled by any one group, and especially not by a group that so misses the mark about what it is that makes our state great. Those lawmakers can wear all of the expensive suits they want. They can trim their hair every week. They can attend church three times a day -- and they still don't have a prayer of representing North Carolina better than those long-haired, jeans-wearing, beer-drinking Mocha lovers do. Not a prayer.