I don’t know how the managed lane issue will pan out. At this point, I really don’t care. What is much more disturbing is the crescendo of vitriol that has replaced civil debate.
For some, the prospect of a toll lane is simply intolerable. The report that perhaps a toll in the year 2035 could reach $20, if the market will bear it, somehow morphed into a “fact” that the starting fee would be $20 each way. People still lament being forced to drive and pay a toll, when in actuality, there will be two
general purpose lanes and two managed lanes — a choice on any given day.
The reports that over 90% of North Meck citizens don’t want tolls is based on a Cornelius media poll…90% of the respondents didn’t want the plan. But how many responded? The Lake Norman Chamber also claimed a majority of their membership voted no…but the number again was around 90% of those members who responded and only 15 -20% of less than 2,000 members responded. Just take a glimpse of the FB pages Exit 28 Ridiculousness and How Occupy LKN Behaves to get an example of what has become a comfort level in public “debate”. Whether or not these opinions have validity, decision making should not be based on who can yell the loudest or make the worst threats to others.
Although many of us hail from other areas across the country, we are now citizens of Mecklenburg County. As such, we can proudly highlight the attributes that our County forefathers thought a civilized society needed in order to be successful. “We solemnly pledge to each other,” the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence reads, “our mutual cooperation, our lives, our fortunes, and our most sacred honor.”
There is no honor in condemning a neighbor for not sharing your belief. There is no honor in saying that people who support tolls should “be hanged” or “are not fit to live among us”. There is no honor in denying discussion or opposing viewpoints in information sessions. There is no honor to citizens when elected officials make decisions on behalf of our future based on emotion and fear of losing their office and without guidance of educated experts.
The Mecklenburg Declaration encourages the preservation of peace and unity and harmony and that simply cannot be achieved when emotions cloud our ability to have honest and respectful dialogue.
Whatever the final decision, let us remember that it is here in Mecklenburg County where the standards were set for our democracy along with the foundation to be able to freely debate. The quest for education on issues, for knowledge, for comprehending not only the short term but the long term viewpoints should be more important than the posts on social media. As should our relationships with each other.