Not that I have actually been on life support, but divisive local politics has sucked the soul right out of me.
At issue was the debate as to whether the Southern Colorado Patriots, shouldering or holstering their guns, could or should exercise their First Amendment free speech and Second Amendment gun rights by marching in the Westcliffe, Colorado, Independence Day parade.
After contentious public debate that involved Tea Party folk hissing, booing and talking over those who objected to their marching with weapons, the Westcliffe Town Trustees voted to comply with Colorado State Law which does not prohibit marching with guns in public. Lawsuit-wise, their vote was in the town’s best interest.
As a mark of respect for those in opposition, the Patriots conceded their right to march with ammunition: they agreed to march with guns unloaded. The parade, to include an estimated 500 marchers with weapons, proceeded without incident. All went well. So what’s my problem? What lies at the root of my pain?
Much was made of the number of tourists who would/and did visit our town to see how the parade played out. Underlying the debate on gun control was lust for the tourist dollar. Granted, we have a number of vacant commercial properties, and business has been slow. There is nothing inherently evil in money, but… money… at any expense?
I understand the need to bolster tourism, but I question that armed children, merrily skipping down Main Street with their happily armed moms and dads is an image that we want to project. The Patriots are certainly due their day in court, but for them to politicize the celebratory day of our country’s founding, was a poor choice of forums.
How sad to see friends and neighbors torn asunder by politics. More and more I’ve been thinking of the adage: In polite society, one doesn’t talk about sex, politics or religion.
As we become less civil in general, we have become less civil in particular. Yes, the Tea Party adherents could march in the Fourth of July parade, but should they have used the parade to publicize their own agenda?
Quoting from the Sangre de Cristo Sentinel, July 12, 2013, “Some 500 Patriots comprised of those from Custer County, Fremont County, Chaffee County, Lamar, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona and elsewhere marched with unloaded rifles and holstered handguns.” This does not feel like community building to me. Rather, it feels like a regional call to arms.
Colorado College has annually published a ranking of Colorado towns and cities in regard to their social capital. In large, the ranking relies heavily on per capita volunteerism. Statewide, Westcliffe always scores at the top of the list. According to the Wet Mountain Valley Community Foundation, which has distributed over 1.5 million to non-profits since its founding in 1999, our community has over 100 non-profits. None of these non-profits would exist without a broad base of support and hours upon hours of volunteerism by people of every political stripe.
The thing about volunteerism is that it bonds dissimilar people together under a banner of good. If those dissimilarities are underscored, what is the future of volunteerism in the county? Are the disheartened liberals going to hunker down and turn their back on the community-at-large? Are the volunteers who live outside of town thinking twice about their efforts on behalf of Westcliffe?
I could go on, but as I said, I am in recovery. I need to take comfort in my friends. I need to look on the bright side. Slowly but surely I am coming back to life. The rain has helped tremendously. I took the header photo just before the wind and a torrential downpour hit the High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival. As if the music itself wasn’t enough to lift my spirits, the rain felt like a blessing.
It was healing to sit under the big all-inclusive tent and tap my foot in-concert next to a person whom I didn’t know. Maybe he was a member of the Tea Party. It didn’t matter. We weren’t under the tent for politics.
NPR just had an interesting piece on the power of music. If you have ever considered the power of music or even if you haven’t, I recommend going to http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/07/09/200390454 where you can read “When Choirs Sing, Many Hearts Beat As One” a piece by Anna Haensch. If you have ever sung in a choir or played music in a band or orchestra, you know the feeling, but now we have scientific proof that people who make music together synchronize their hearts.
We could use a bit of that: synchronized hearts.
Having been released from critical care, I took in the Farmer’s Market today and came home with Music Meadows grass-fed ribs, red chard, green kale and a glorious bouquet of dill. Everyone wanted to know what I was going to do with the dill.
If I have offended anybody writing about politics, the following recipe for Home-cured Salmon with Dill will set things right. Buy a slab of salmon. Cut the fillet cross-wise. Mix an equal measure of sugar, coarse Kosher salt and crushed peppercorns. Spread the mix on the fleshy side of the salmon. Top with a handful of dill. Sandwich the two pieces of salmon (flesh to flesh) and seal in plastic wrap. Place in a container to catch any juices that escape the plastic. Weight the fish down. I use a brick. Place in the refrigerator and flip over after 24 hours. Give it another day. At that point, the salmon is ready to eat.
Some recipes call for pouring vodka over the salmon before adding the sugar, salt, and pepper. It may be a good idea, but I have never tried it: I prefer my vodka straight.
I raise my glass. “Here’s to harmony.”