(Clinton, KY- June 30, 2015) The beaches at Isle of Palm, Charleston, South Carolina are 755 miles from my desk. That was where I was enjoying the surf early in the morning of June 18, 2015.
Back in the condo, over a second cup of black coffee, I turned on the television. Almost immediately, there was screaming across the screen BREAKING NEWS.
On the screen, another tragedy. This one a short ten miles from where I sat enjoying the sun and surf.
The night before, a lone gunman shot and killed nine people at a church bible study in downtown Charleston. Details would follow.
And they did, all day well into the night prime hour of national news.
A young white male, had entered the church and had listened to the small circle of minister and eight fellow worshipers. He then drew a single revolver and gunned them down.
For most of us, the thought that this breaking news was just one more horrible story of white men gunning down black people. It seemed as yet one more instance of a lone individual, filled with hate, trying to add his particular slice of madness onto the constant stream of gun violence occurring every day in our modern America.
By now, most people know all the horrible details of the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church.
Yet, with each new hour, this particular crime scene grew more important to the national news as each detail of the shootings were reported.
Grief and mourning was rippling throughout the United States. These hard emotions were soon being replaced by a national and individual feeling of anger, rage, and new energy to say "enough is enough."
Overnight, and into the weekend, after 24 hours each day of reflection, reporting, and remorse, a new sense of resolve, emerge across the land.
From where I sat, it seemed as if an invisible hand had just used a giant brush to paint a new arc of history.
It seemed as if Gandalf, the fictional wizard of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, plunged his staff down into the earth with power and force not seen in modern times, proclaiming, "Enough is enough. You, evil, shall not pass this way, again."
The energy unleashed from this lone gunman had taken hold and shaken the "heritage and culture" of the nation. A new emboldened movement has awakened from a 100 year sleep. Issues of slavery, Southern economy, and states' rights are now at the forefront of national and regional debate.
The glorification of the Civil War is now questioned. What are the real truths of that time? The awareness of who won and who lost is now coming out in local and state voices for striking down all symbols of hate from that war.
President Lincoln knew this dialogue must take place after the war was over if peace could be achieved. Lincoln wanted a peaceful rejoining of the South into the culture of being an American, with eyes turned toward the future. Unfortunately for America, Lincoln was also gunned down by hate and a bullet.
The debate and discussion that should have taken place in 1865 is just now breaking out across America. Are we, as Southerners, willing to join the 21st Century and leave the 19th Century in the past?
Do we have the strength of country to act in the spirit that Lincoln saw in rebuilding the American Experiment?
I think so.
The South is becoming a place of just not "good old boys," who speak gun and white supremacy , but a place in which German, French, Western, and Northern dialects, are heard each day.
A new kind of global South is arising and it has no place for historical hate.