Weather-wise, there are few perfect days in Middle Georgia in summer. Its either hot as Hades before the afternoon thunderstorm hits, or theres humidity that makes an oven whimper in jealousy. But for the debut of Mercers first football game in seven decades, Im not sure we could have asked for a more perfect day.
The stadium is ideally situated so that the sun, setting in the west, creates the perfect scene over the home stands (yes, I notice such things. They dont just happen).
As a crowd of more than 12,100 watched the Bears, the marching band, cheerleaders and other acrobats (anyone who can do a back flip, not to mention several in a row, is an acrobat) and enjoyed the day, I was hit by something else. Here was Macon, white and black and brown and yellow in the same space enjoying the same thing. There are frightfully few opportunities where this happens.
The same thing occurred the night before the big game at the Douglass Theatre. Again, a totally mixed audience filled the historic venue to see and hear guitarist Larry Carlton. Hes been making music for four decades and has earned four Grammy Awards.
All the baggage we hold dear in our fair city, baggage youll read about in our Macon in the Mirror series that starts today, seems to disappear over football, music -- and one more item -- food.
Its not that we all agree. We still have heated debates about which teams are better (Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Fort Valley, Tuskegee, Albany State, Georgia Southern) or what we think are Otis Reddings best songs (Ive Been Loving You Too Long, Try A Little Tenderness, Sittin On The Dock Of The Bay), and we can debate for hours the nuances of the Allman Brothers In Memory of Elizabeth Reed or Melissa. And everybodys got an opinion about whether the Chili Dog or Slaw Dog is the best Nu-Way wiener.
All of those things prove we can get along if we give a little thought. We dont agree on which church to attend on Sunday morning. Is that an indication of our animosity toward one other or just an overblown, meaningless statistic? You decide, but I believe its the latter.
As a total community, we stereotype ourselves into little boxes. One community believes it is the purveyor of all thats good and tasteful. Anything else is an abomination to natures laws, and another part of the community believes the other is working daily to keep them oppressed. In all stereotypes, there is a bit of truth, but we allow that little bit to blanket every issue we face.
Both communities turn a blind eye when one of their own is caught with their hands in the cookie jar, but each side never forgives perceived disloyalty, i.e. black supporting white and vice versa. And both sides feel they are at the mercy of the mythical good ol boys.
We are diverse in ideas and opinions, and that makes us like every other place on Earth. People have asked me, Why do you stay here? Weve asked the very same question to hundreds of people in our Macon in the Mirror series. Some have lived here all their lives and wouldnt think of living anywhere else, but Im a 33-year-long transplant. Ive lived in several other communities and have had several opportunities to say See Ya.
There is a saying, Theres no place like this place so this must be the place. For me, this is the place. Do I get frustrated by our divisions? Yes, they make my heart ache because I cant make sense of them. Am I tired of seeing our shared potential blocked by historys animosities? Of course.
The reason I stay here can be wrapped up in one four-letter word: Hope. I see hope everywhere -- in Friday nights at the Douglass Theatre, Saturday afternoons at Mercers stadium, or any day at Nu-Way. I see hope when all shades and sizes of people come together to eat, cheer and appreciate, not only the scene, but one another.
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraphs editorial page editor. He can be reached at 478-744-4342 or via email at email@example.com. Tweet @crichard1020.