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 nycshooter on iStock


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This past weekend, I noticed a bunch of flags on my street and wondered why since July 4th is still almost a month away. But this morning, I learned that today's Flag Day.


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Well, for someone who likes to decorate for the holidays, I would have thought you would have known all about it.


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I've heard of it, but I never really thought much about it, let alone when it is. I knew it had to do with the American flag, but it surprised me that it has nothing to do with Betsy Ross, which legend has made the first flag, although it seems there's no evidence to support that.


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If you want an interesting "story", read about why the American flag is called Old Glory. Regardless, the American flag, like all flags, communicates a message.


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I know you like to connect odd dots, but only you would see a connection between flags and communications.
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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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I can't believe that Sawyer's graduated from high school and will be off to college in a few months. It's so bittersweet. Especially as it seems like only yesterday you were bringing me dinner in the hospital the day she was born – it was wedding soup from my favorite Italian restaurant.


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Well, since that has now become one of her favorite restaurants, that is where we should go to celebrate the start of her exciting new journey.


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Exciting is an understatement. As soon as she finished her Zoom session with the orientation team at Belmont University, she came downstairs and talked a mile a minute about all the incredible course offerings, and before I knew it, she opened her laptop and was going through everything with me.


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When she showed it to me, I was impressed by the range of courses available, and it made me want to go back to college. But, I was most impressed by her enthusiasm and commitment to opening herself up to opportunities that she might not have previously considered.


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I know! For years, starting when we taught at KIPP Houston High School, you've told students that college was a step-along-the-way, not a destination. And the perfect opportunity to try new things.


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I also said, "Homework never ends; it just is called 'research' when you get older."
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