The conventional evaluation of the trends in American history see contravalent forces as dichotomous in impulse, and have been described in terms of sectional (North vs. South), political (Republican vs. Democrat), voting pattern (Blue State vs. Red State), or degree of religious involvement. Nevertheless, what is often overlooked is orientation toward how life should be lived.
Consider the implications of these two views:
"Life is real, life is earnest, and the grave is not the goal."
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"We'll sing in the sunshine; we'll laugh every day."
-- Lynn Anderson
The first views the person having to account for her or his life; it is something to which proper stewardship is required. And shame be to the one who fritters his time away in pursuit of pleasure.
And yet our Declaration of Independence asserted that among common rights of all men is the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration was not perscriptive as to how that can be obtained.
So here is another dichotomy: There are some people who see life in terms of adhering to the straight and narrow, whether it is how the liberal or the conservative defines it, and deviance from that is to be discouraged. The nature of this deviance is incidential; whether it be alcohol or marijuana or hunting or wearing plaid or being opposed to federal regulations. Fussbudget HOAs fall in this category. The bottom line: social solidarity and rule adherence trumps the carefree pursuit of self-referenced pleasure . . . .
And there are others who see it okay for someone else to pursue pleasure in his own way. These types may be geographically dispersed: Nevada and some parts of Florida seem to be amenable to this view. On the other hand, there is the Bible Belt and other equivalents to it.
I got the impression that this has been a 300-year struggle for the psyche of America: the conflict between the tightly rule-bound and the loose. Maybe it has to do with our history: the region that is today the United States had been settled by people who had in their own time fit in poorly with whatever society they originated from. True, sometimes they demanded more stringency. After all, the Puritans came here to establish a City on a Hill; not a place to do whatever the hell you pleased. And they were not for freedom of religion as an abstraction; only for their own brand.
But there were others who had a different view. Maybe it was simply to quietly worship in their own way; maybe they wanted to carouse a bit; maybe they just simply wanted to sleep late on Sunday and not be hammered with two-hour sermons! These were the original dissenters.
Some went to nearby Merrymount with Thomas Morton, erected a maypole, dispensed beer, and invited the nearby Native American girls. Governor Endicott was having nothing of that: he sent the militia to disperse those offenders. "Put your clothes on, sober up, and we'll see you in church next week for you to do some serious repentance. And stop wearing those infernal beads!"
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