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The Daily Planet's Opinion: November 2019
Sunday, 03 November 2019 13:52

Asheville area’s heterogeneity exemplified by full houses for Franklin Graham, Arun Gandhi

One of the wonderful things about the Asheville area, besides its naturally friendly people, scenic beauty, culture, history, food and beer scenes, is its status as a near-heterogeneous city, sparkling, as it does, with a dynamic equilibrium.

Of course, this frequently, if not constantly, means the city (and surrounding metro area) struggles over terrain and influence. 

Nonetheless, we agree with the urban planners and critical-thinking laymen who say that heterogeneity is absolutely crucial to great urbanism, that there are forces at work that threaten it, and that we must work to sustain it.

As a recent example of the area’s healthy heterogeneity, we are pleased to note that, when two prominent spiritually and politically divergent figures recently spoke locally, the proceedings inside and outside remained civil and the events drew full houses — Dr. Arun Gandhi, the eclectic leftist grandson of Mahatma Gandhi; and the Rev. Franklin Graham, an Asheville native who has been outspoken in his poltically conservative convictions. 

Gandhi spoke Oct. 5 in two separate addresses on the same topic at Unity of the Blue Ridge in nearby Mills River, while Graham spoke for about 30 minutes during his 90-minute Decision America rally on Oct. 13 at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville.

Franklin Graham is the oldest son of the late — and world-famous — evangelist Billy Graham. The elder Graham, who was considered the most-beloved minister in America for years, also was regarded as a friend, personal minister and consul to American presidents, regardless of party affiliation. He died on Feb. 21, 2018. He and his beloved wife Ruth, who died in 2007, were long-time residents of Montreat, just 18 miles east of Asheville. Billy lived in Montreat for more than 60 years.

As for Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Arun’s grandfather, who was referred to later in life by the title of “the Mahatma” or “great soul” by his admirers, he was assassinated on Jan. 30, 1948 in the compound of Birla House (now Gandhi Smriti), a large mansion in New Delhi. His cause of death is widely considered ironic, given that he was regarded by many as the 20th century’s most famous apostle of nonviolence — and that he, himself, met a violent end.  He was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist, who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India’s independence from British Rule, and in turn inspire movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

If the best path to the truth is through a dynamic tension of opposites, then our city’s heterogeneity certainly ranks among its top assets.



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