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  • Probably what did it for me this year, outside of all the political wrangling and healthcare reform, was Walmart firing all their "People Greeters". No more "Hello and thank you for shopping at Walmart". Blurred supply chains and greed are so much easier to handle with a yellow smiley face sticker. I get a little soap-boxish with my cynicism. If it's coming from me, it is usually labeled "insightfuly connective" and I do indulge myself, usually with a small audience of close friends and modestly priced wine.

    But a deeper wave is swelling within me, what has thrown me round myself and this country, the good ol' US of A, is the epic fight I witnessed during the fireworks display on the Fourth of July.

    So here we all are, sitting on the roof of my car, parade style, when all of a sudden two women start mouthing off to one another in the car beside us, the one about being blocked in and the other saying she would move her car after the fireworks display was over. Their banter turned to abuse and neither would back away from the line they had drawn in the sand.

    All this is taking place in the parking lot of my children's elementary school where cars are packed in like sardines for the fire works display at the town square a block away.The obscenities begin to fly along with their fists.Then the two ladies, and I use this term loosely, begin pulling each the others hair and one another down to the ground.

    Then their men get involved.
    And that's where it gets ugly.

    One of the guys pops his trunk while I pull my kids from the top of the car and literally shove my kids inside our car so they do not see or hear any of this fighting. I attempt to call the police, but my phone won't work. Dead Zone. I try, repeatedly, to call 911. Nothing. NO connection. We are the only people around. I can't believe all this is happening. And it is all happening so fast. So I scream "HELP! SOMEBODY CALL THE POLICE!"

    It is at this moment that the man just starts wailing on the other guy with the tire iron. Repeatedly hitting him with the tire iron with one hand and holding him by the arm with the other. Both yelling, screaming. The deformity of the assailant's face was illuminated by the blue, red, gold light of the fireworks and the hate, the intent in his eyes is on repeat in my mind. I have never seen people that know so little about one another filled with that much hate and violence. Never. Over what? A parking space.

    The violence triggered a deep well within me that I don't think I understand yet. I went to the city hall, and told them my story, thinking that it would help. Somehow. I wanted them to know, for someone to know, because I can't stop wanting people to know how awful this violence is. And if this violence is so evil between Man 1 and Man 2 then how much worse is violence between Country 1 and Country 2?

    But all I really felt like being an American got me was the right to complain.

    But then I remember how I felt inside the Jefferson Memorial, the building you see in the picture above. The air was soft and cool, off the Potomac, the mesmerized voices hushed and quiet under the towering statue of Jefferson, a man of history I admire. On the walls are engraved passages with words written by Jefferson himself, words that speak to the united resolve of freedom.

    I know my cynicism must go. And when I see it in others, especially on the news, I want to label it, and toss it out the window, because it will strangle the life out of us this year if we don't. The stakes are too high and real at this point in our country. There's too much work to be done.
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