I Have a Charleston Dream: Opinion Commentary – Charleston Daily

By Mark A. Leon

By Mark A. Leon

In the words of our forefathers, all men are created equal. A principle that has withstood the course of time, but action and principle has historically been at odds. We live in a world of cynicism deeply saturated with prejudice, hatred, jealousy and oppression. It is an unfortunate fact of our being. In our quest for freedom, we forget the basic elements. In choice, speech and acceptance, the guiding elements remain. We need to find them once again.

Charleston Observations of Compassion and Happiness

In the Waterfront Park fountain, a child laughs while running through the streams of water. A complete and uncensored freedom of unyielding happiness.

On the Cooper River Bridge, a couple holds hands and smiles as they look at the sailboats coloring the harbor with their sails.

In Hampton Park, close family and friends decorated in their best attire are sharing a promise of two people to love one another for all eternity.

At White Point Garden, the sun is rising over the Charleston Harbor and two dogs are playing in the early morning hours.

At Sunrise Park, an elderly man sits on his patio chair, fishing rod in hand hoping he can wrangle up some dinner and get some relaxing rays of sun.

On East Bay Street, a violinist plays to the passing crowds while his dog rests comfortably with water by his side. Across the street lines of poetry are recited from East Bay Meeting House.

At James Island County Park, dogs are splashing in the pond while others chase each other under the warmth of the calming sun.

On campus, students are walking, biking and skate boarding to Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library to study for upcoming final exams.

Through the windows on Queen Street, we see couples dining to the culinary delights of 82 Queen, Husk and Poogan’s Porch.

At Marion Square, vendors are laying out fresh vegetables, honey, fruits and hand crafted jewelry where soon hundreds will flock to enjoy a morning in the park.

At the MUSC Urban Farm, I can lose myself on a bench and learn the art of growing fruits and vegetables in the heart of downtown Charleston.

In Mount Pleasant, I see a rainbow of colors illuminate the sky as the sun sets just beyond the Cooper River Bridge in the Charleston Harbor.

I also see a storm brewing where dark clouds loom ahead

I live in a city where poverty is being trampled by boutique hotels, fine dining and extravagant arts. A government ridding us of the tent city to make room for the golden expansion. I see hatred bottled up. I see a city divided in geography, race and economic status. I see a population growing at the fastest rate ever, but an infrastructure that cannot sustain it.

On the corner of Spring Street and King, a black family including a one-legged woman in a wheel chair could not cross on the walk signal because two trucks cut them off and made a right turn right in front of them.

On the Cooper River Bridge two young adults made a suicide pact, published their last words on Facebook and killed themselves and this city looked away.

The number of highway fatalities and gun related deaths are on the rise, but instead of looking at the family, our education system and the need for positive change, we smoke screen it with task forces on gun control.

We are a community wrought with festivals and fund raisers all year long, but lack the funds to give all citizens a comfortable living.

With the increases in food and luxury tax, cost of living well above national averages and the push for me high end dining, shopping and accommodations, we are looking for at the awards and revenue stream and not in the eyes of our own citizens struggling to survive.

In Marion Square during Fashion Week, where models are wearing thousand dollar dresses and suits, a homeless man takes comfort in a park bench just a few feet away next to the Holocaust Memorial.

At a gas station on meeting street, a couple just stopping for fuel is approached for a hand out and a solicitation to buy drugs.

Charleston is a culture built on individual and small business owners who take their talents and pursue a dream. That is the foundation of our being. Now, we are opening the doors to hotels, expansion of housing, high end restaurants and large management groups, driving the small businesses out.

So when does it end?

Do we wait twenty years, when the water levels raise another two feet and flooding is a complete way of life? Maybe, we wait until the road system is so damaged and we lack the federal and state funding to fix our streets, that we are forced to look at mass transit options. Can we continue to ignore the racial tensions? Were all the promises of affordable housing and livability improvements just rhetoric from the mayoral candidates?

So many questions, unanswered and so few want to speak up.

This all begins with a voice, that voice becomes a plan, that plan a movement and that movement becomes change.

I write about what I am passionate about. I find subjects that elicit an emotion and light a fire. The written word is a powerful tool, but the ultimate power is in the human mind and its ability to understand, find compassion and strive for the one thing we have; humanity.

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