2018-07-08

Today we go back to the legislature for “Veto Day,” an unusual construction in and by itself.  

Over the last week, when we celebrated Independence Day, I was able to reflect a great deal on government, the idea of a representative democracy, and what it means to be an American.

And I did this in an unusual way - by working at my daughter’s house in NH - by splitting wood, by building a stone wall, and by cleaning out other people’s trash.  Not all pleasant, mind you, but a chance for reflection. But all the work done to benefit the property - the larger goal.

I thought about what it must have been like to be a farmer in the 1700’s, where survival was tied to work.  Splitting wood in the early morning before the sun comes round in order that the house be heated in winter does make one think about how hard it must have been to live, just survive, in 1776.  In the heat of last week, I did think that a month in Philadelphia at the Continental Congress might have seemed a real break for farmers and landowners.

Our democracy was conceived by landowners and business men who wanted to work together to improve their lot.   They wanted to have their interests represented fairly in a republican form of government.

Those tensions - between the individual and the community - the state and the federal government - individual needs and wants - they all still exist today.

But there is  a single grand difference between then and now.  Today, the individual often considers his or her own wants and desires to be more important than the community needs.  Hence we have people who just leave their trash for someone else to pick up - their needs were just more important than the welfare of the property.  And not without parallel, we have an administration in Maine who leaves bills, like litter, with vetoes that work against the best interests of the whole community.   There is no sense of stewardship from those most able to lead and guide.

Communal efforts - to form a more perfect union - should always outweigh the expression of individual wants. When we work for others, we also work for ourselves.