Thinking out loud about Independence Day


Stood outside at 4 a.m. this morning, letting the cool desert wind ruffle my hair in the darkness, and thought big thoughts, while the small ones skittered around in the wind trying to keep their balance. Like when I felt the wind in my hair, it reminded me I probably need to dye my hair again. I haven’t seen the real color in a long time, other than at the roots, and I’m OK with that. I like what I see in the mirror as a blonde.

Well, blonde-ish.

That led to the big thought of whether we as a town, and as a country, like what we see in the mirror. Which led to wondering how the British vote to remove itself from the European Union will affect the world’s economy, and ours in particular. They looked in the mirror and saw themselves as a country, rather than part of larger union. And they did something about it. We did that a couple hundred years ago—looked in the mirror and saw ourselves as something separate from an empire. And we have, with varying success, made a go of it.

For the British who did not want the separation, I would give them these words: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…”

The process the British are going through is much like ours was 240 years ago this week. What they are attempting to dissolve are political bands which the majority obviously felt were constricting and diminishing their country. We felt the same way.

So, to the British, here are the words we often forget, the ones we fought a war about, as we felt them so strongly, the ones after “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Were the British right to do what they did? Were we? I don’t know the answer to the first, but I believe with all my heart that the country that was to become the United States of America was right to do so. It is possible I may be be biased. However, writing these words is guaranteed by documents written more than two centuries ago, by men with the foresight to understand that freedom of the press is a necessary part of a democracy. When the press keeps silent due to fear and oppression, you don’t get to see the truth.

We’re human, God only knows, and imperfect. And, above all, we are a community newspaper. Our constrictions always include space and time. Also, the truths you read here are colored by our understanding of events that may not align exactly with yours, or your neighbor’s, or the powers that be. I see this paper as a seed, a place for you to start a conversation, not the end of the needed dialogue. If the information here makes you think, or question, or speak when you might ordinarily stay quiet, then we’ve done our job.

And we’re able to do that job because those same men who wrote that document were able to convince their neighbors and co-workers and children that the words they wrote were worth fighting for. The rest of the world dismissed the United States of America as an “experiment.” Democracies were uncommon at the time, if any existed at all. Sorry, Mrs. Satterwhite, I didn’t listen nearly as well as I should have in American History in high school.

That experiment—our experiment—has, so far, stood the test of time. And will, most likely, survive the upcoming test of either a Trump or Clinton presidency. Because those same writers made sure to build a system with checks and balances constructed to avoid one person’s ability to destroy or pervert the whole. I personally find the idea of either as president terrifying—but I’m neither Democrat nor Republican, so couldn’t affect either party’s choice. You have to ask yourself, though, which would you rather have in charge of our nuclear arsenal?

I’m thinking out loud we’ve gone from hair dye to nuclear devastation in less than 800 words. Can you say psychic whiplash?

Best of luck to the Brits.

Oh! Don’t forget to stop in at Rooney Park on Monday—the Chamber is throwing their all-day Independence Day bash. We may get worried about our country sometimes--but we’re worth celebrating.

See you at the park!