Peaches, Patriotism & the 4th of July

This morning, I went to the farmer’s market at Pepper Place and spent about 20 minutes talking to/pestering Connor from Piper & Leaf. We talked about tea and fireworks, but I also noticed something else: Every time a customer bought a jar of tea or even just grabbed a sample, Connor told them to be sure to try the blueberries and peaches from the neighboring booth.


Now, Connor doesn’t get kickbacks from that booth. Piper & Leaf isn’t affiliated with them, so there’s really no reason for him to direct customers there — he’s simply doing it to be a good neighbor. That’s something independent businesses do all the time, and it’s something corporations do hardly ever (unless they have a liscening agreement or some kind of profit sharing deal).


As Americans, we tend to be good at being neighbors. We’re good at rallying behind someone in need or something we believe in, and this can manifest itself in really good ways (like helping a family in need) or in not-so-good ways (like attacking people who disagree with our politics).


Today is Independence Day, and it’s a time to reflect on how America began. This couldn’t come at a better time, because with all the polarizing politics lately (gay marriage rights, the Confederate flag disputes, and the burning of black churches, among other things), we really need perspective. I think it might help to remember that the Revolutionary War was born out of intense discussion, nuanced arguments and a reluctance to go to war, not a blind march toward conflict.


Today, we celebrate with fireworks and barbeques. But maybe, when the subject of politics comes up around the picnic table, let’s slow down and really listen to each other. Let’s think about things from other perspectives and allow our own beliefs to be challenged, if not changed. Let’s lean toward the political discourse that made our country great instead of engaging in the “my ideas are better than your ideas” shouting match that American politics has devolved into lately. And let’s also look for ways to be kind and to support others even when it’s nothing in it for ourselves.


In short, let’s recommit to being better neighbors, and better Americans, too. Oh, and let’s listen to Connor and try those peaches, because they really are very good.


Carrie Rollwagen is author of The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local and Reclaim the American Dream, creator of 30 Days of Local Praise and co-founder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Find her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @crollwagen.

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