Happy 4th of July to my American readers! We are having a great time here at this old house. The park is full of the historic summer community; generations of Chautauquans return over the 4th just like the swallows come back each year to San Juan Capistrano. The Colorado Chautauqua opened on July 4th, 1898 and we now have sixth and seventh generations of descendents in some of those early attendees’ families. We also have wonderful newcomers to this community as well, new families that have decided to call Chautauqua home for at least part of each year, making a great blend of historic and renewing elements each summer.
The annual tennis tournament began at 8 AM (with a break for Quiet Hours, of course!) and the historic summer community’s picnic is this evening. Right now, the weather looks like we might get rain but at least it will be cooler than it has been some years. Some really hot years, I have wondered if the picnic had been temporarily transported to Texas for the evening instead of being held in the foothills of cool Colorado! Tonight, I think my neighbors from hot and humid Houston (and Dallas and Austin and San Antonio) will be glad to be in Colorado.
One of the things I love about my summer Texas neighbors is that they know how to decorate their houses and themselves. Bunting and flags are everywhere throughout the park and there is always a lot of 4th of July bling at the annual picnic. I have collected a few items myself over the years of living here. This morning, I had to remember where my red, white, and blue stars necklace was as I hadn’t pulled it out for 12 months! T-shirts with rhinestones, fun hats and bandanas will also make an appearance tonight. It feels like Texas up here today! I love it.
It is good to stop and remember our nation’s birthday. We so easily forget that the birth process of a nation, as well as all birth processes, wasn’t an easy one nor was it straightforward. There were many contentious issues to deal with then and many opinions on how they should be solved. There were people of good will and scoundrels in the mix. We fought more than one war over the issue and civil disobedience was as alive and well then as it is today. It took years to settle into a Constitution, a government that was fully up and running, and a currency that was our own. These things did not happen overnight. It is easy to think about the things of the past with rose-colored glasses on, thinking that there was some Golden Age or that everything fell into place in homogenous ways. Anyone who has read more than one book about the founding of this nation knows that it was a messy and fractious process over a number of years.
The beauty of our democracy is that everyone is entitled to a voice in it. The results may not be to your liking but we all have the privilege and the responsibility to weigh in on issues.. It makes me sad that voting percentages are so low these days. We are all good at complaining but less good at seeking solutions and compromises because those things take time and we have become an instant-fix society. Ennui has settled into many people’s political educations and interest; I am always very thankful during a Presidential Election cycle that we don’t have TV here at this old house. Talk about a turn-off to wanting to be involved in the political process! The British allow their election cycle for prime minister to last only five weeks! Maybe we should re-think the time and money spent on electing a President and other representatives in this nation. It is confusing and exhausting for everyone.
This year, with the recent decisions of the Supreme Court, people seem to either think the country is going down the toilet or has risen from the ashes. There doesn’t seem to be too much in the middle, at least from what I have heard. We really won’t know for decades what those decisions really mean for us as a nation and as a society. Today, we have forgotten the uproar over the introduction of federal income tax and social security, things we can’t imagine living without now. Where will health care be in 50 years? I have no idea and no one else does either. We in the present are no ultimate judge of what policies will be considered by history to be innovative or short-sighted. None of us knows which side of history we will end up on. That is why it is useful to regularly read history. It keeps the present in perspective.
In the meantime, we live our lives, doing the best we can to be good citizens, voting intelligently, trusting all to God, and playing the best tennis we can in the local tournament. God bless America and all the other countries of the world as well.