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A time to praise what’s best

Pagosa Country’s biggest weekend of the year is upon us.

The place draws a crowd, and there is plenty to do. Residents and visitors enjoy several days of activities, peaking on July 4. The carnival will be in town; the arts and crafts festival will be set up in Town and Centennial parks; the Red Ryder Roundup will take place over three days; Celebrate America takes place at the Ross Aragon Community Center tonight; festivities at the high school sports complex, complete with the annual fireworks, finishes the holiday fun.

The holiday also gives us a chance to reflect on the meaning of the event. Independence Day celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and, in a way, what followed — the statement of basic rights to be enjoyed by citizens and the establishment of a rule of law. The Fourth of July holiday is a good time to read (or, we hope, reread) the preamble to the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights that followed it in 1791.

This is a time to reflect on what we have, and what we too often take for granted.

We are all too familiar with the bloviators and whiners who, in the first case, thump their chests in exaggerated displays of righteous patriotism and political ire, and, in the second case, moan and groan about their roads, their water, their taxes. The dialogue reminds us of what we need to focus on this holiday.

We should remember that, in many places in this world, the bloviator — unless he is a Quisling — risks imprisonment for his noise. Criticism of political leaders is an invitation to disaster.

Free political speech in too many places in the world does not exist; oppression reigns, tyranny rules the day.

Try complaining about your circumstances in many places in this world and see where you get.

Try practicing your religion, if it is not the sanctioned religion or, in secular states, where such practice is forbidden. See where it gets you.

Go to the grocery store this weekend. Look around, then consider for a moment that such abundance is hardly the norm on this planet.

Worried about your roads? Drive around and check things out. Does it occur to you that the fact you have transport and there are passable roads, maintained by a public entity, makes the situation exceptional? Here, you travel freely, unless the route is private. And that, in itself, is another positive aspect of life here – that private property exists and is respected.

Need to take a matter to the courts? Consider for a moment that our legal system, for its many flaws, is still the best available. You have rights that protect you prior to arrest; you have rights intended to protect you as a matter is adjudicated. There are no vans carrying you away in the middle of the night.

We need to be aware of these and all the other blessings that flow forth from our founder’s Declaration of Independence. Yes, we need to be vigilant concerning the loss of rights, but we can do this openly and in concert with other like-minded citizens.

Despite the rotten economy, despite instances where we see rights weakened, despite a political system that seems to teeter on the brink of impotence, we have it well.

This Independence Day, let’s toast the founders, salute what is right in a nation to which people from around the world still wish to come, and relish our camaraderie rather than our differences. And resolve to ensure that we remain independent in the future.

Karl Isberg

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