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Opinion

Commentary: The Unifying Panthers

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WFAE commentator Gus Succop hspace=5

The Panthers' successful season has this WFAE commentator thinking about the importance of unity, both around a sports team and nationally. 

Sometime last fall I began to notice it. Schools, churches and fast food marquees were expressing support for the Carolina Panthers. One day, it struck me like a two-by-four: The Panthers had become the great unifier for the Queen City. Excitement for the football team had begun to blur so many divides: race, religion, profession, and even age.

One day in December, I was in aisle 7 at the local grocery store when I heard someone in aisle 5 spontaneously make known their support of the Panthers. 'Go Panthers!' echoed throughout the store, and such support didn’t end there. A store-wide response was forthcoming in the form of applause and whistles. We were all on the same page.

What a contrast to the divisive spirit that greeted me one night as I watched one of the political debates.  There was no mistaking the division of opinion by the candidates, no matter that they were all of the same political party. Same party, no party, or different party, there appears to be no unifying spirit when it comes to our politics, and I find that unfortunate.

What the Carolina Panthers have reminded me of is that there is far more that unites us as a nation than divides us, and yet in recent days if not in recent years, such a unifying spirit has been hard, if not impossible, to detect.  In a day and age when there appears to be an enemy de jour, exhibiting a united front as Americans should be more important than ever. If we Americans can teach the world anything new these days, it just might the value of unity, no matter the differences we carry into our voting booths.

In an unexpected way, the Carolina Panthers have made me realize the importance of being a united people, of being one nation called together from all four corners of the world. It may sound so very simplistic, but in a world that appears to be more and divided by tribal fever, being united as a nation does have its advantages if not its rewards. We Panther fans know of what we speak.

Go Panthers!

Commentator Gus Succop is pastor at Quail Hollow Presbyterian Church.