Words & Banter

RED & BLACK ... A Time For Independence

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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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.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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Photo by bhofack2 for iStock

Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


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That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


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Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
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