Charlotte and Charlottesville

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The now-historic Charlottesville weekend of almost two weeks ago eclipsed another riveting event just 280 miles south in Charlotte. The racial turmoil in Virginia grabbed the attention of the big sports story in neighboring North Carolina: American golfer Justin Thomas became just the fourth person to win the PGA Championship at the age of 24 years or younger. 

For golf fans, the competition was a nail-biter, as Thomas and three others fought for the win to the final hole. For non-golf fans, this event pointed to the power of cultural events in our society. Just 20 years, another young golfer soared onto the greens and changed the course of sports history. In 1997, Tiger Woods became the first black golfer to win the Masters, admittedly the Super Bowl of golf, held at the iconic country club in Augusta, GA. Clifford Roberts, founder of this legendary tournament, once said: "As long as I'm alive, golfers will be white, and caddies will be black." 

Things can change, thankfully.

Sadly, the 20 years since Woods won that first green jacket have been rocked by sports-related injuries and serious personal challenges, and both seem to have sidelined his career, despite a fine number of other golf accomplishments. In fact, the Thursday that began this year's PGA tournament was the day new sources announced Woods' plea in court over his DUI charges which stem from a misuse of pain and sleep medications. He was absent from the tournament, again.

Things can change, tragically.

In the span of eight short years, the United States went from electing its first black president to having his successor breath cultural oxygen into the social evil of racism. Our society is energized by culture, as we look to sports heroes, artists, celebrities, scientists, and writers to stretch us and remind us who we can become. We also go to church to remember who we are: children of God, created and loved by a Father who has no favorite children. 

Things can change, gracefully.