I like to say we have almost everything going for us in Cherokee County: our location — literally where the metro meets the mountains — great schools, top public safety services and low tax rates.
Perhaps the best thing, and the one that drives most of the others, is our great people. People here tend to be involved and
engaged in their community. They take pride in it. And we have something that’s slipping away across the country — we’re nice! — and I really hope we can retain it here.
I’m not saying we’re perfect. We haven’t totally escaped the trend toward combativeness, and we have a few sour grapes. But we’re better than most. It’s a really important asset to our county.
We see it on our roads. We let other drivers into traffic, and we wave to thank those who let us in. When we encounter traffic problems, mistakes or even rudeness by other drivers, we’re tolerant. We avoid leaning on the horn and the infamous one-finger salute.
We see it in restaurants and stores. We’re pleasant and respectful of the people who serve us. If we must make a complaint, we do it politely, almost apologetically.
We mostly tolerate our neighbors when they play loud music and ride their all-terrain vehicles. Even better, we turn down our music and slow down our all-terrain vehicles when we see it’s bothering our neighbors.
We take stock of our own faults before we call out the faults in others. We’re kind and helpful to people who need our help.
Contrary to the Southern stereotype, we’ve mostly moved past caring about differences in race, ethnicity and background. We’re moving toward a world where those differences are no more important than hair and eye color.
We’re tolerant and respectful of differences over sensitive issues like politics and religion. As much as we value our right to have a different opinion than our neighbor, we value their right to an opinion different from ours. Our political leaders seek cooperation rather than combat with each other.
I see it when people complain to me about roads, growth, taxes and other county issues. They’re thoughtful and understanding about the challenges in solving them all.
OK, maybe I’m stretching things a little. Maybe we’re not quite achieving the utopia I describe. But I know we come closer to it than most communities. And it’s probably the most important factor in our quality of life. Without it, really, what good is the rest?
Like the other treasures we have in our great county, let’s keep working to preserve and build on our treasure of “niceness.”
– Harry Johnston is chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners. He’s a retired CPA and accounting manager, and a former district commissioner. Email him at email@example.com.