Tom Campbell

Tom Campbell

My pastor, LuAnn Charlton, led the drive-in worship in the church parking lot. Her scripture was Psalm 51, but she focused on one sentence in the chapter: “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Think about it a moment. After the events of the past year, the last six months - especially last week - how is your spirit? Confused, frustrated, anxious, doubtful, vengeful and angry are some of the adjectives that popped in my head.

It wasn’t always this way. Or was it and I just didn’t realize it? Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who seldom ventures far from the sports lane, says the events at the capitol “went to the very fabric of this great country,” adding it was a “sorry day.” But concerns for our fabric are more than just political.

It is painfully obvious that we are more divided than probably any of us can remember. Those schisms go far beyond age, sex, race, political affiliation or where we live. We need a new and right spirit. I sat in my car and cheered Pastor Charlton’s message, thinking to myself that THOSE people who don’t think like me, behave like me or live like me really need to hear this.

And then it hit me. She’s not talking to other people. She’s talking to me. But I didn’t incite any riots. I didn’t call anyone names. I’m not part of any leftwing, rightwing or any kind-of-wing group. But do I have a clean heart? Is my spirit right? I decided that LuAnn had stopped preaching and started meddling.

In concluding the sermon Pastor LuAnn said we need a healing and we can at least be thankful that the vaccine for coronavirus is here and it won’t be long before we can get the shots.

That’s it. The COVID vaccine might do the trick to prevent the virus but we need more. Maybe they can mix in some red, white and blue patriotism in that vaccine. Can we add a dash of civility and, while we are at it, we know we have a serum that provokes people to tell the truth, so let’ stir in some of that?

NY Times Columnist Tom Friedman recently said, “Without truth we can’t agree what road to go down. Without trust we cannot go down that road together. When you don’t have truth and trust it is hard to sustain a democracy.” Neither can you sustain a family, a business or much of anything.

Our survival as a country, as a state and as a people depends on our being able to find bonds that tie us together instead of separating us. The mantra for the new year needs to be a prayer to have a clean heart and a new and right spirit.

Tom Campbell is a Hall of Fame North Carolina Broadcaster and columnist who has covered North Carolina public policy issues since 1965. He recently retired from writing, producing and moderating the statewide half-hour TV program NC SPIN that aired 22.5 years. Contact him at

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at