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I keep forgetting to ask you, since Sawyer is away at camp, what did you do for July 4th?



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Well, it was a very different Fourth of July. No kids. No barbeque. No fireworks.


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I know most of the fireworks were cancelled, but is your barbeque grill broken?


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No, this year I decided to declare my "independence" from doing a big holiday grocery shop, major prep work, and cooking outdoors in Texas heat.


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I wish there were more people willing to declare their independence.



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Somehow I don't think you're talking about me making an easy pasta dish in the comfort of my air-conditioned house vs. standing over a hot barbeque on a hot day.


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No, but the quote, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" does apply to a bunch of elected government "leaders" – and I use that terms loosely as they actually seem to be "followers." You cannot tell me they do not see how their actions – or inactions – are hurting their constituents.



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Although I agree with you, I can see where some elected officials feel the need to maintain the party line. Like you've always told me, you have to pick your battles.


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Yes, but we are talking about people's lives. You are the history buff, so you well know there was a time when people would give their lives to do what they felt was right – for their families, for their community, for their country. Even if that meant standing up to those in control.



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Yes, but I think you're being a bit dramatic. Which is interesting as I was the theater major, not you. After all, equating sacrificing your life to taking a stand about your beliefs is different from leaders who aren't willing to "speak up" to "higher-ups".


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Really? One is risking their life – the other, maybe, their career. True leadership is about doing what is right. And, if you feel that something that is wrong, take an independent stand. It is about having the strength, courage, and conviction to do what you believe is right.


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Sounds like you watched "The Patriot" over the holiday weekend.


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Never heard of it, but you are the movie-goer, not me. Although we both know your primary motivation is the popcorn.


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True. Anyway, it starred Mel Gibson as an American colonist, and although an "action movie" showing our fight to win independence from Britain, it still explores those exact themes. America may not be a perfect country, but it has always stood up and been willing to fight for what it believes in.


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Yes, but that is harder to do when leaders are not leading, but rather just following. Being a true leader requires independent thinking.


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That reminds me of something someone told me decades ago about a colleague they worked with, "He would be a great leader, if only people would follow him." It definitely made me laugh.


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Sometimes you do not realize the wisdom of a true leader until much later. Initially, they may be measured by doing what is popular or convenient.


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I love history, and there are countless examples of just that, but I'm not sure how you begin to crack that nut. Today, thinking, yet alone independent thinking, isn't what a lot of people do well.


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OK, Miss History. After we got our independence from England, how were we ruled? Who made all the decisions?


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Is this a trick question?


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No, I do not know the answer, and I am trying to understand what happened and why.


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First, my disclaimer that I know more about Tudor history than American history, but to keep it short and simple, the 13 states had to find a way to work together, and the original structure (if you're ever on Jeopardy remember "The Articles of Confederation") gave the states a lot of power. However, that didn't work out so well, and after just a few years, there was the brilliant idea to create The Constitution, which establishes and defines the separation of powers.


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So, it required a lot of creative thinking, with an end goal of what was best for "We the people". In other words, when our country was born – it was led by independent thinkers not people that merely followed along.


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Yes, but that's history. Good luck turning back that clock! It would require those "up the ranks" to relinquish some of their power. And need I remind you that we had to fight the War of Independence to achieve that?


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That history fact, I do know. However, I think we have recently witnessed the importance – and power – of independent thinking. And, combined with good leadership, it can result in great things.


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Absolutely! And to say there's such an overwhelming need for that at this critical time would be a huge understatement. Maybe it's time for another revolution, although this time make it peaceful.


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The War of Independent Thinking. Now that would warrant fireworks.

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Quick! Define literacy (without Google or Siri's help). Ok, finished? We bet that you may have stopped at the ability to read and write. Which, technically, isn't wrong. It just isn't completely right, either. Which is what Red found out when she discovered, much to her surprise, that it includes such critical areas as financial, digital, and health literacy.

Red even admitted to Black that she didn't understand all those terms, although she had another concern … was Black going to use her as a poster child for her lack of literacy skills in this month's column, "RED & BLACK … A Blueprint For Life?!"

P.S. – This month's column is in honor of September being Adult & Family Literacy Month.

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Underlying photo by mphillips007 on iStock


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I can't believe how quickly the year's flying by. And that tomorrow's already the fall equinox.


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I cannot believe that you know that but did not know when Rosh Hashanah fell this year.


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I got the dates mixed up. And I'll admit I had to look up the fall equinox date because it also varies slightly from year to year.


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Technically, the equinox is not a day, but rather an exact moment – when the Sun crosses the Equator.


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Picky, picky, picky. But if I remember correctly, although science class was decades ago, on the equinox, we have 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime.


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Not exactly, but close enough. But, why are we even talking about this?
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Initially, I just chalked this up to being "old" and accepting the fact I remember telephones before they were "smart" (and will admit they can make me feel "less-than-smart"). I am old enough to remember rotary dial phones (see the image above) where you had to place a finger in the hole associated with the number, then rotate the dial round to the end-stop and let the dial return under its own power. I will not go into the science behind it, but it was extremely reliable – although very hard on your manicure.

But, this is not about the history of telephones or the associated technology that has improved to the point computers that once required a large, air-conditioned room can now fit in your back pocket or handbag. This is not about us all (regardless of age) needing to be digitally literate. It is not about the fact the older we are, the larger the screen size we prefer, although we might claim it is a function of what we are used to versus admitting to declining vision as we age.

Rather, this is about a recent experience that first made me feel old. Then roll my eyes. And then open my eyes to an opportunity.

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