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U.S. of Adulting

Posted July 05, 2024

Matt Insley

By Matt Insley

U.S. of Adulting

The other day, I asked my wife: “Is it just me… Or has Bill been acting off lately?” 

As the weather’s warmed, I’ve seen my neighbor around more often — cutting the grass or walking his poodle mix. 

But Bill (not his real name) seemed to intentionally ignore my wave. 

“I thought the same thing,” my wife confirmed. 

For the life of me, I couldn’t come up with a reason why. (I’m a likable enough guy.)

“Do you think it’s the sign we put in our yard?” my wife wondered. 

The sign in question was for a local political candidate last fall. 

The candidate personally canvassed my neighborhood. 

He took the time to answer my questions face-to-face. 

And even though we didn’t see eye-to-eye on every issue… 

When he asked if I would put his campaign sign in my front yard… 

I uncharacteristically agreed. 

I frankly respected the guy for his grit. 

It’s not easy to knock on a stranger’s door, facing down rejection. 

And I’ll be darned if Bill didn’t put a sign in his front yard! 

For the opposing candidate.

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Your Rundown for Friday, July 5, 2024...

Adult in the Room

When I reminded my wife of this incident, she regretted jeopardizing friendly relations with the neighbors across the street. 

Over a sign. 

But the contrarian in me pushed back at this notion. 

We’re all adults here, I thought.

For good measure, the next time I saw Bill when he was out for a walk, I chatted him up. 

It turns out, after a 40-year career, retirement’s been a hard adjustment for him. 

Plus, the house is just so quiet since his only daughter moved out. 

Not too long after my conversation with Bill, I got our American flag out of storage. 

As I was dusting it off, the thought crossed my mind: Like that yard sign last fall, how might neighbors interpret the flag? 

On my way to a conclusion, I acknowledged the flag means different things to different people. 

For some, it stirs feelings of exclusion from the American Dream on the basis of race, religion, economic status… The list goes on. 

For others, the flag’s a sacred reminder of the men and women who sacrificed “in order to form a more perfect union.” 

Those eight words from the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution: The founders of this nation knew a perfect union wasn’t achievable.

But a more perfect union? That’s something Americans could aspire to.

Because the idea the flag represents — the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” — is generous enough to enfold people of different stripes. 

If we just take the time to listen. With an open mind and heart. Like grown-ups.

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