Yours, Mine, and Ours

It seems only fitting, since my date this month lands directly on Independence Day, that I get to meander a little bit about the nature of independence. Like almost everyone, I love a parade and I love even more the local versions that will occur in the smallest towns and hamlets in Maine today, because of what they say to me about our independent natures.

Like most of us, I was raised with a set of values and prescriptions calculated to support my sense of personal independence: Stand on your own two feet, mind your own business, be true to yourself. All these message combined to give us the sense we could survive on our own, that we are individually strong, and these are important messages, especially for children.

But the fact is that we are bound to and held up by the efforts of many people and institutions: our schools, our churches, our friends, yes, even our governments. And in most cases, without that support, our individual strengths can waver in the wind.

I believe in balance in the world. Call it karma if you like, but the balance between our individual strengths and our community responsibilities is how we thrive. If we do not care for something outside our individual situations, we have nothing to balance against rampant self-interest. Many of us are struggling, philosophically and practically, against a shift in the prevailing ethic to a grotesque degree of self-interest.

Which was why I was so pleased by the outpouring of support in Portland for the asylum seekers who’ve recently come into our communities, seeking nothing more than the exact freedom and security our own ancestors sought when they came here. All of us, in that sense, are from away, and if we were to deny these people, we deny our own history.

So a Happy Independence Day to you, your families and to all the people who ever left their homes, voluntarily or not, looking for balance in their lives and independence, personal and communal. Blessings on your heads . .

About Richard Cass

Dick is the author of the Elder Darrow Jazz Mystery series, the story of an alcoholic who walks into a dive bar in Boston . . . and buys it. Solo Act was a Finalist for the Maine Literary Award in Crime Fiction in 2017 and In Solo Time won the award in 2018. The third book in the series, Burton's Solo, came out in 2018 and Last Call at the Esposito in 2019. Sweetie Bogan's Sorrow was published in 2020, to thunderous pandemic acclaim. The sixth book in the series, Mickey's Mayhem, will come out in 2021. Dick lives and writes in Cape Elizabeth.
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3 Responses to Yours, Mine, and Ours

  1. Hooray for balance. Also kindness, generosity, and sympathy. Many of our ancestors came here because of conditions at home. It took courage to leave the known behind and strike out to an unknown country.


  2. janetstebbins6149 says:

    Well said. We must seek/retain balance when the country/world seems to be losing theirs.

  3. John Clark says:

    Just getting back from the wilderness of Washington County, hence the late comment. When I campaigned last year, one of my platforms was the need to welcome more immigrants to Maine if we had any prayer of surviving as a state. Not only will they bolster a very depleted work force, but the diversity is sorely needed if we want to make Maine more open minded.

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