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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Appreciate independent thought this Independence Day

Monday, July 2, 2012

With the Fourth of July this week, many Americans are taking time to reflect on the principles and values that define our great nation. This year, I am particularly grateful for our freedom of expression, and the right to voice our individual beliefs.

Nebraska is home to about 1.86 million people, and each one has a unique perspective and opinion.

While there is plenty that we Nebraskans see eye-to-eye on, there is plenty that we don't. As Americans, we have and keep the freedom to express our different ideas, thanks to the armed servicemen and women who fight to keep our system of government alive and well. Make certain to pay tribute to them on this Independence Day. America wouldn't work without them.

You know, it's not just Nebraska, but our entire country that holds dramatically different beliefs, thoughts, and judgments -- about most everything. Ask three Americans what they call a particular color, and you'll get three different answers. Something I call "blue," you might call "indigo," and your neighbor might call "navy." While none of us are wrong, being Americans, we might all insist that we're right.

I love that about our country. We Americans are boldly opinionated people, and we're steadfast in our convictions. We've each got 'our take' on things, and we're incredibly confident in 'our take' on things. Sure, this may lead to disagreements, but debate is a sign of a healthy culture -- much better than an unquestioning conformity.

Unfortunately, recent events in our country have left Americans feeling very divided. Polarizing issues and actions have some concluding that there are just two groups of people here: "those who see things my way," and "those that are wrong." While there are some very serious issues at work here, such a flat-out rejection of someone else's opinion is incredibly un-American.

Believe it or not, back in the 18th Century, before the American Revolution, not all of the colonists supported rebelling against Great Britain. Initially, it was a very unpopular idea. Most of the colonists wanted to keep their heads down, while nearly 20% were loyal to Great Britain, and just about 40% wanted to revolt.

The idea of rebellion was unattractive for quite some time. It took a lot of talking and discussion before the concept attracted more followers, and a distinctly-American political and social identity spread throughout the colonies. So, it might be hard to swallow, but America might not be around if not for what was once an unpopular idea. If all of the loyalists in the Colonies were inflexible in their views, the American Revolution may not have happened.

Our diversity of ideas has long been one of our country's greatest strengths. To this day, intelligent and well-meaning Americans have major disagreements about what the role of government should be -- and that's okay.

This Independence Day, let's celebrate our freedom, and the American independence of thought and opinion - they're what got us here in the first place.

So, while it is in our cultural heritage to disagree, I think that all Americans can agree on something. We all love our great country.

Have a happy and safe Independence Day, Nebraska.

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