We live in one of those houses where you don't really own the house. You simply have the keeping of it for awhile.
Our house was built in 1850. It has had few owners, because almost everyone who lived here, lived here for a long, long time.
The woman we bought the house from raised five children here and buried a husband. She is an amazing woman.
She left us a special gift--the flag that goes with this house. It has been passed down from owner to owner ever since.
You can see our flag here: http://188.8.131.52/flagFlying.jpg
The first time we raised it was that Friday after 9/11, when President Bush asked Americans to hang their flags.
Jon did a little research on our flag that day. From the standard layout of the stars, and counting the ones that were added, we think it may have been first raised a few decades after the Civil War. Jon wrote about it, 9/11 and the Battle of Antietam here: http://184.108.40.206/flag.html
We've put it up sporadically since then. It is very old, and very fragile. I hesitate to put it out in bad weather.
And sometimes we just forget. We are probably not the most conscientious owner this house has experienced over the years....
Today I read a great post from a blog called "Creating Passionate Users" by Kathy Sierra. It's an older entry (3/21/05) called "One of Us IS Smarter Than All of Us". You can read this entry here: http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/03/one_of_us_iisi_.html
Kathy heard a speech by James Surowiecki, author of THE WISDOM OF CROWDS. You can see this book here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385503865/
It explains why I hate "groups". But it also gave me an insight into what really is great about our country.
Surowiecki says, "The wisdom of crowds comes not from the consensus decision of the group, but from the aggregation of the ideas/thoughts/decisions of each individual in the group."
And: "Diversity increases the quality of the aggregated wisdom of the group." Kathy says, "If you have too many people who are alike, then no matter how smart they all are, they may not come up with the same quality of answer than if you have less smart folks who have a very different point of view. Diversity brings new information. And that new information is valuable."
At our worst, we are a nation of group-think.
But at our best, we are a nation of aggregate thought. Each point of view, no matter how cantankerous or short-sighted, contributes to a lively balance.
Whatever your politics, I hope we all take a moment today to reflect on the great strides forward our country has taken since its birth.
And hopefully, to help in the great strides it will continue to take.