Fourth of July 2023

Fourth of July 2023 has me thinking about frogs. Perhaps you’re aware of the frog-in-the-pot theory of change. Apparently, you can boil a live frog easily if you put the frog in an open pot filled with cold water. Gradually increase the temperature over a long period of time, and the frog will not jump out, even as the water temperature rises to lethal levels.

Heather Cox Richardson has written a succinct and helpful summary of our country’s beginning. Our history is complicated. It doesn’t help us move forward together as a country to cast dispersions on those with whom we disagree or who have different cultural and social biographies than our own. Our country has a long history of good times and bad times. It seems as if Charles Dickens’ opening lines in his 1859 Tale of Two Cities were written for us living here today. “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

Our astounding achievements and prosperity have lulled us into believing all is well, or not our personal problem if all is not well for some. Political squabbling, global warming, and cruel injustices inflicted on some have created a sea of systemic sludge. Bit by bit we’ve sacrificed safety and community for convenience, profit, and mind-numbing pastimes. Like the frog in the pot, the environment is deteriorating right along with the lifestyles we once took for granted. Insurance companies are starting to refuse coverage in the aftermath of relentless wildfires. Demand for affordable housing is greater than available supplies. We are no longer safe in our own communities as mass shootings have become virtually a daily occurrence.

This is why Fourth of July 2023 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 and read from a variety of sources. We can talk, and listen, to each other. Turn strangers into acquaintances and then, perhaps friends. Get to know the people around you. Learn about our complicated past rather than trying to deny or gloss over the worst of times. That is the path to the spring of hope.

Thank You Heather Cox Richardson

Here’s a summary of Heather Cox Richardson’s July 3, 2023 article about our earliest 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.

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

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