Secession: “If you love us, let us go.”

In Editorial on December 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm

The President’s face was solemn and his eyes were heavy with sadness as he spoke these words:


“In the past week, our nation has been visited by horror. And in its wake, our country stands deeply divided on issues of pubic safety versus individual liberty. Now, more than ever, it is obvious that there are Two Americas.

Look, we’ve tried. We have honestly fought the good fight to remain a united people. But we have failed. We are, in fact, many people divided into two factions: one believes in the necessary sovereignty of the State, and one believes in the natural sovereignty of the individual.

Therefore, I am asking Congress to immediately allow states where its majority of citizens hold dear the right of individual sovereignty to proceed with secession from these United States of America and to make their fortunes…”

I was jolted awake by my alarm clock.

We are two Americas and they two are polar opposites. We know what those differences are and it is pointless to continually enumerate them.

Marital divorce is an ugly thing, yet it is legal in every state. Civilized society demands that there be a peaceful mechanism for couples, once deeply in love with each other, to go their separate and peaceful ways.

It would be inhumane to force them to endure each other in a home filled with dislike, distrust, and deeply held differences on domestic policy.

It is equally inhumane to force an entire American people to unwillingly suffer the presence of each other when they have, likewise, grown apart.

Rarely, but often enough to mention it, divorced couples become fast friends. This kind of amicable relationship most often succeeds when the divorce was mutually recognized to be best for everyone concerned.

All of us have had failed friendships.

Almost fifteen years ago, I enjoyed a close friendship with a young attorney cum newspaperman who blew into town. We bonded immediately when I jokingly interjected, “because the ambulance he was chasing ran out of gas just inside the city limits” in response to a social club leader asking why he chose to settle among us.

Smokey Briggs and I became fast friends after that. We spotted each other as we lifted weights, we hunted wild pigs, and we dropped in on each other at the end of trying days with a cold six-pack of beer.

And then there was a real, or imagined, slight. We parted company.

For the next three years he and I glowered at each other from our respective sides of the street. Actually, it was more of a disdainful glance. We had nothing pleasant to say to each other and we entirely avoided each other’s presence.

But our broken friendship remained a civil relationship. We did not seek each other out in bars or hurl insults at one another (much) when we ran into each other at the post office. We dutifully caressed our egos as we sat glumly apart at the social events we were obligated to attend as businessmen in a struggling town with few businesses.

We simply parted ways.

It was the best possible outcome to a broken friendship.

Neither of us cared much for our new relationship. And, in a few years, we tentatively resumed some very limited social activities together. It was awkward for me at first and, although he has never said so, I am certain those early days of reconciliation were difficult for him as well.

It took a few more years for us to get comfortable with setting aside the, now forgotten, differences we once had.

A few years later, I moved from West Texas to seek out better fortunes. After a morning of shooting at the range we shared in building (he did the lion’s share of work), in the hot sun of an early summer, and in the parking lot of a characteristically decrepit desert diner, I shook his hand and bid him farewell.

In recent years we have irregularly corresponded, formed a business partnership neither of us had time for, and consulted with each other during troubling times. We continue to exchange holiday cards in which he (a marginal Roman Catholic) and I (a marginal Jew) good naturedly salute each other with,  “Dear Heathen Bastard”.

Our friendship bloomed, died, and re-emerged. How?

When we had our disagreement, we had the good sense to part company before we did irreparable damage to each other.

A nation can, and must, be equally sensible.


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