On Rainbows, 'Brexit' and fireworks

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Rainbow Family

All it took to put Mt. Tabor on the map was the arrival of an estimated 10,000 members of the "Rainbow Family," a 1960s-style countercultural holdover who dropped in for a brief stay in the woods of the Green Mountain National Forest. The peaceful quietude of this suburb of Danby was broken for a couple of weeks by the arrival of all these folks with their interest in spending some quality time in the forest and conducting their annual national gathering.

It's unfortunate that their event was too often discussed in a connection with what sounds like vigilant and vigorous law enforcement, but not having been there to view things first hand, it's difficult to know whether or not all those traffic tickets and other summons for alleged misdemeanors were justified. But when even the Governor of the state says it's time to back off and practice some "live and let live," you wonder what the big deal was.

What it sounds like were a group of Americans practicing their right to peacefully assemble and have some fun. If they were damaging public lands so that the next group of hikers and campers would have a diminished experience, that's one thing. If they cleaned up after themselves, then we should content ourselves with welcoming one more group of admittedly unorthodox tourists, take their money for gas and groceries, and wish them well.

In its own peculiar way, the Rainbow Family gathering represents some of the nicest legacies of the upheaval begun 240 years ago last week in Philadelphia. It's independence of thought, and the freedom to gather with like-minded friends, that are at the center of some of our most cherished ideals as Americans. Particularly in the heat of a presidential election year, when populist sounding rhetoric which may or may not have a connection with reality occupies the center stage, it's reassuring that funky, off-beat events like the Rainbow Family gathering can happen, and happen here.

Hopefully whatever frayed nerves there may have been along Route 7 between North Dorset and Wallingford will settle down and things will go back to what passes for normal.

Brexit

By now many of you will have read about all you feel you want to about "Brexit," or the British exit from the European Union (EU). Voters in the United Kingdom voted on June 23 by a 52-48 percent margin to authorize their government to open negotiations with the other EU nations on leaving the organization of 28 nations, to allow themselves more freedom to navigate their own way when it comes to managing immigration and their economy, and regaining a larger sense of national sovereignty. All well and good, but the "Leave" camp has now bumped up against some inconvenient truths about what might actually occur.

Finding a painless, mutually acceptable agreement with their potentially former partners on continental Europe won't give them the best of all worlds, won't be easy and is probably impossible. The U.K., or what remains of it should Scotland and Northern Ireland opt to try to stay within the European camp won't have the ability to manage immigration and labor flows and maintain the same cozy trading relationships they have now. The apparent amount of factual inaccuracies and downright lies the British public was sold — and amazingly bought to a large degree by those very parts of Britain which have suffered the worst from de-industrialization and global competition yet who were on the receiving end of most of the EU financial largesse to offset those trends — is shocking in hindsight, and virtually begs for a second vote on the question, now that the costs and consequences of this precipitous decision are becoming clearer. Meanwhile, the spectacle of British politics at the moment is jaw dropping, with all the major leaders of the three pre-eminent parties or factions — the governing Conservatives, the Labor Party, and the third party United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) — resigning or are under a leadership challenge.

What is perhaps the most poignant aspect to this is the potential loss of the broader, more global world younger Britons thought was to be their inheritance and their arena to operate in. "What type of a society do you want to live in?" was the question for these folks, who were far more comfortable with the multi-ethic and cultural melange than apparently their elders were, by and large, taken as broad groups.

One final thought on this question — it's been more than 70 years since a major war disrupted not just Europe but the whole world, bringing unprecedented levels of carnage, destruction and bloodshed, with smaller conflicts like the one which ravaged the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s being about the lone exception. The EU, and its predecessor, the Common Market, may not be able say that they, rather than continent-wide exhaustion and horror of more senseless warfare, were the main reasons for this. But surely a common sense of European identity has helped keep the peace. With the world in a volatile place now, a dismemberment of the EU is in no one's interest, and that goes for the U.S. as well.

4th of July fireworks

Another excellent show was turned in by the organizers of the town's annual July 4th fireworks event, celebrating our nation's independence. We couldn't help but notice on social media that some folks found the connection with the Hollywood and movie theme a stretch. We thought it was great. The music was good, the fireworks excellent. Just sayin' .....


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