4th of July, 2024

Yesterday was the annual flag-waving, grill-cooking, parade-watching, and fireworks display celebration inspired by events over 200 years ago. I spent it at a performance of The Lion King. This week’s post is an edited rerun of what I posted a year ago, in 2023. What I wrote then seems to describe where we are a year later so I decided to take the week off to enjoy time with family. Here’s to summer reruns.

The annual 4th of July holiday has me thinking about frogs and glasses. Perhaps you’re aware of the frog-in-the-pot theory of change. Apparently, you can boil a live frog quickly if you put it in an open pot filled with cold water. Gradually increasing the temperature over a long period of time, the frog will not jump out, even as the water temperature rises to lethal levels.

Our history is complicated. Depending on whether your glasses are rose-colored or not, things are falling apart, or we’ve lived through worse. Mercifully, we get to decide where we aim our focus. Evidence abounds that we’re infested with anger, hurt, frustration, disbelief in the actions of others, and nervousness around those with whom we disagree or who have different cultural and social biographies than our own.

And it is equally true that we’re enjoying more conveniences for less sweat and effort than any previous generation. I write from the air-conditioned comfort of a automated recliner, looking out on beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers, maintained primarily by the efforts of others. Over the course of a couple of weeks I’ll have caught up with six out-of-town family members, here in three shifts. All arrived thanks to cars and planes.

Our country has a long history of good and bad times. Charles Dickens’ famous opening line in his 1859 Tale of Two Cities classic continue to hold true. “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Small Events Lead to Big Changes

Political squabbling, global warming, and cruel injustices inflicted on some have created a sea of systemic sludge. Bit by bit we’ve sacrificed community for convenience, personal integrity for profit, and meaningful conversations with friends and family for mind-numbing pastimes. Like the frog in the pot, we’ve refused to notice how the environment is deteriorating. But equally invisible to most, are the efforts of thousands of people through organizations like:

Sierra Club
Nature Conservancy
Environmental Defense Fund
Lutherans Restoring Creation

I’m sure there are others, but if you’d like to help mitigate the environmental situation, any of these would be a good place to start. Independence Day has me thinking about that poor frog. It adapted to its environment and kept adapting until its life was in serious danger. I worry that we humans are doing the same thing.

Solution? Be informed. Pay attention. Read from a variety of sources. We can still find ways to talk and listen to each other. We can turn  strangers into acquaintances. Some acquaintances will become new friends. Some friends might become family. That is how the human community is woven together. America is a wonderful country, but with some dark secrets that need exposure to light so they no longer fester and cause problems. Learn about our complicated past rather than deny or gloss over the worst of times. That is the path to the spring of hope.

Thank You Heather Cox Richardson

Here’s Heather Cox Richardson’s summary of about our earliest U.S.A. history.

  • 1763 – The end of the French and Indian War led to an economic boom, the French giving up control of the western lands of North America, and expansion beyond the Appalachian Mountains offered new opportunities. The colonists owed a debt of gratitude to the British for their support throughout the war.
  • 1765 – King George attempted to prevent another expensive war with the Indigenous people by prohibiting colonists from crossing the Appalachians. To recoup some of the cost of the previous war, British Parliament imposed the Stamp Act, a tax on anything printed.
  • 1766 – In response to numerous protests, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act and instead passed the Declaratory Act giving Parliament authority to make binding laws that impacted the colonists. The colonist had neither voice nor vote in Parliament.
  • 1767 – When this news reached Boston, MA, local groups boycotted taxed goods and raided warehouses owned by those suspected of breaking the boycott.
  • 1768 – British troops arrived in Boston to restore order.
  • March 1770 – British soldiers shot into a crowd of men and boys. Five died, and six others were wounded.
  • May 1773 – British Parliament attempted to bail out the East India Company by giving it a monopoly on all tea sales in the colonies, which would mean cheaper tea for the colonists, which would justify the tea tax.
  • Fall 1773 – Ships full of East India tea sailed toward the colonies but turned away when they learned trouble was brewing. Except the ship headed to Boston.
  • December 16, 1773 – Colonists dressed as Indigenous people and held the famous Boston Tea Party. Parliament closed the Boston port.
  • 1774 – Colonial delegates met in Philadelphia to discuss how to object to British tyranny, while others stockpiled weapons and supplies and created a system of men who could be ready to fight at a minute’s notice. British officials ordered the arrests of Samuel Adams and John Hancock.
  • April 1775 – British soldiers set out for Lexington to arrest Adams and Hancock. Several dozen minutemen greeted them. Shots were fired. Eight residents were killed, a dozen more wounded. The British soldiers attempting to return to Boston were shot at by minutemen. Causalities included 73 dead British soldiers, 49 colonists killed and numerous wounded on both sides.
  • Spring 1775 – The Continental Congress met and decided to create the Continental Army, with George Washington in charge of it. Some of the delegates wrote to King George, blaming the troubles on the king’s men who dealt out excessively harsh treatment, forcing the colonists to arm themselves, but pledging their loyalty to the monarch. Before their attempts to achieve a peaceful outcome reached King George in the fall of 1775, he’d already declared the colonies to be rebelling against his authority.
  • January 1776 – Thomas Paine wrote his “Common Sense” pamphlet blaming their troubles on the king and rejecting the notion that an island could properly govern a continent. The document spread throughout the colonies, with people calling for independence.
  • April 1776 – various states wrote their own declarations of independence. The Virginia convention asked the Second Continental Congress to declare the United Colonies free and absolved of all allegiance to the Crown or Parliament of Great Britain.
  • July 2, 1776 – Second Continental Congress passed the “Resolution for Independence.” It was officially adopted on July 4, 1776, marking the final break between the colonies and England and confirming the conviction that a nation should rest not on the arbitrary rule of a single man and his hand-picked advisors but on the rule of law.

So it was decided. So it was written. May it continue to be so as we trudge through the sludge we’ve accumulated through the centuries; making amends for the wrongs, adapting to new realities, and working together to reach that spring of hope. It will be hard. It will be frustrating. There will be setbacks and disappointments. We will let one another down along the way. But we will also find reasons to celebrate progress as we strive to achieve new levels of liberty and justice of all creatures great and small.

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Mary Brewster’s Love Life and Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures: available wherever books are sold. Bookshop.org/Mayflower; Mary Brewster
Amazon.com/Mary Brewster’s Love Life
Autographed copies are available on my website.


  1. Hello, I enjoyed the presentation you gave at Lakeside Chautauqua yesterday. You are enjoyable to learn from and engage with. The information you presented was helpful and I would like to explore it further. Will you send me the notes you offered in pdf form? I took notes but they are scribbles lol and I would like to pare them with your slides. I recently subscribed to your newsletter and look forward to keep up with your writing and reading the past issues in your blog and the video interviews with you.

  2. I’m glad you found the workshop helpful. I’m sending you a pdf version of the slides to this e-mail address.

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