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“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

I want to get to know America better. I often dream of getting in my truck, pulling a small travel trailer, and hitting the road with my wife and dog, all packed up front.

One of these days, the three of us hit the road in search of America. But there’s plenty to be gleaned right here at home.
– Photo by Deborah Triplett

We’d have a great time, meeting wonderful people, and seeing our fabulous country.

We’d drive under spacious skies, amid those amber waves of grain, see the purple mountain majesties … from sea to shining sea.

It’s a dream I’ve held since watching the many episodes of “On The Road” with Charles Kuralt.

But until my grand adventure happens, I am saying, “Hello America” right here – in Charlotte, in North Carolina.

Our city and state are incredibly diverse. Even people I assume are just like me, might not be. The other evening I joined two friends for dinner. We get together about every two months, to hear about each other’s families and all the usual things friends do and talk about. We’ve known each other for many years, even traveling to El Salvador together several times on mission trips.

You’d think we knew each other pretty well by now.

During our last visit, the conversation drifted to hand guns and concealed carry permits. My jaw hit the table when one of my friends announced, “Yes, I have a carry permit. Want to see?” His is the first one I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t look like much.

To get a concealed carry permit in North Carolina, you have to take a test that requires the applicant, under ideal conditions, to hit the target 21 out of 30 tries. Maybe 70% is a good score, but what, or who, did the other nine bullets hit?

I wonder why my friend needs a carry permit but I don’t. Are these political differences or could they be more differences in desires, beliefs, and cultures? We’re not all the same here in Charlotte, and I need to be good with that.

So I’m making a choice to listen to the stories from people who make different decisions about how to live their lives. I hope to grow from these conversations and I hope this simple sharing can bring us together.

As I look at our country, it seems that what ever it is that’s dividing us is not just a Blue State versus Red State thing. It’s culture, desire, and beliefs pushing us apart.

That’s why I’m saying, “Hello America, how y’all doin’?”

Do you think the divide we see today is right versus left, or is there more to it? What are the differences you see?

How do you think we can come together?

I read the letters to the editor in The Observer Forum, not just the ones I will agree with but also the ones I won’t.

It’s clear to me that while many of us enjoyed the last eight years of Barack Obama, there is an equal number of us who couldn’t wait for his time to end.

I’m hoping our shared stories can bring us together. We just need to take the time to listen to each other.

What do you think?

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran

Epilogue

You may be a member of the National Rifle Association, I’m not – but I have friends who are, and I bet you have some as well. Their love for our country is as strong as mine, just different.

Have you seen the NRA commercials? Here’s Freedom’s Safest Place?