Today, I ate lunch in downtown Fayetteville at a place called Agora. Try it. It’s good. But, it got me thinking.
Per wikipedia: The agora (/ˈæɡərə/; Ancient Greek: ἀγορά agorá) was a central public space in ancient Greek city-states. It is the best representation of city form’s response to accommodate the social and political order of the polis. The literal meaning of the word is “gathering place” or “assembly”. The agora was the center of the athletic, artistic, spiritual and political life in the city. The Ancient Agora of Athens is the best-known example.
Per Atlas Obscura (a really cool site): But what marked the Agora with everlasting glory was the other commodity traded and peddled daily: ideas. The Agora was the meeting grounds and hang out spot for ancient Athenians, where members of the elected democracy assembled to discuss affairs of state, noblemen came to conduct business, ordinary citizens got together to meet up with friends and watch performers, and where the famed philosophers doused their listeners with wisdom (or rubbish).
Downtown was exceptionally busy today. It’s been that way lately.
After lunch, I passed protesters camping out at the Market House. Yesterday, there was a larger protest on Hay Street. It got a little rowdy.
Our police chief was right in the middle of it.
There’s an idealistic clash in America right now. It’s a war of ideas about what the Nation was, is, and should be moving forward. A similar war is raging over what Fayetteville should be. We’re being tested. But at least we have a place to show up and present those ideas that’s not the internet. When people meet face to face, they often find they have more in common than they think. Truth emerges eventually when we listen to one another.
Covid has destroyed many of our communal traditions that hold us together as a city. We’re not going to church, ballgames, and Fourth of July fireworks shows. It’s hard to listen when you’re sitting at home. The virus isn’t going away anytime soon. In the meantime, at least we have a public space where people are going to hash it out.
America is full of ideas. You’re free to peddle yours daily in downtown Fayetteville, be they wisdom or rubbish.