Just Sayin'

Happy Birthday USA!

Celebrations are echoing through the mountains of North Georgia this weekend with fireworks filling our starry nights and scores of events to enjoy over the four days of festivities—some accessible only by boat or marvelously, by train. Hometown markets showcase artists and produce, even music, while an abundance of summer concerts reverberate across county lines, inviting visitors to trek the mountain roads for bluegrass, contemporary artists, and classic performances.

Along the trek, town squares are the backdrop for local groups sponsoring patriotic floats, riders waving to the roadside crowds. Our boat parades always launch well ahead of the evening fireworks shows in several mountain communities, keeping traditions that span generations. See the column to the left for highlights of area events; and be sure to search online for good eats at fundraising cookouts we may have missed.

Now, please don’t let the following rant frizz your festive mood. It’s a small expression of hope that we will have more fully joyous celebrations ahead for our nation’s birthdays.

July Fourth festivities across this nation this weekend will recall the determination that took our loosely united colonies from serving a king to leading the free world—standing ready to aid the rest. Of course, many of those hosting family and friends this year may ask that attendees leave their phones and politics at the door to preserve the peace on Independence Day.

 Just as in 1776, we are a simmering republic, a still reluctant melting pot of people deeply divided. And just as we started, we’ve again splintered in fear, even turning on one another in attack. We weren’t just the yanks against the Brits back in the struggle for independence; we were brother against brother, then too, as we have been so many times since. Ideas that aren’t our own, lately seem able to frighten us out of our wits.

We are designed to see things differently from one another—to listen to another’s point of view, and sometimes, allow it to reshape our own. In the digital age, our melting pot has become more than a little fond of taking “pot shots,” once a derisive term for self-serving, unsportsmanlike gunfire with the intent of feasting on the carcass of one’s target. Those social media ambushes have now escalated into street brawls and unimaginable brutality.

Mob rule is just as hideous as a tyrannical monarch—and we’ve come close enough to both recently to bring the staunchest partisan to reason. We’re smarter than this, more hopeful than this, and surely more grateful than this as a loving, can-do country. We have overcome such obstacles, accomplished so much as a nation, learned slowly but well from our mistakes, that surely we can find our way back to civility when we’ve had enough of this madness. Aren’t we there yet?

C’mon people now, smile on each other—you know the chorus, sing it loud!

“Let’s Get Together” Inspiring lyrics by American singer-songwriter Chet Powers