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September 2020
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If the politics/culture has you down, try looking with a different perspective

By Dan Pool, Editor

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A few weekends ago, I took a gravel road bicycle ride with Gary Pichon, a regular Progress contributor through his letters and columns.

Pichon, as anyone who reads his submissions knows, is well read and thinks a lot and deeply about the state of the area and nation.

Gary and I have cycled together regularly on the gravel roads of North Georgia. On the day in question we took a route through the Nimblewill area, on the far side of Amicalola Falls State Park.

Steep uphills on gravel bikes give plenty of time to talk, so Gary and I naturally started discussing politics/culture  -- both local and national.

We shared concerns that however the impeachment mess in Washington turns out, it’s damaging for the country.

And this nasty tone in Washington and online regarding politics filters down to the people on a local level, so that we both felt the country is filled with citizens who are shorter-fused and uglier in actions than ever before.

It’s worrisome on where this trend will go with ever more divided groups in this country, and there already has been violent encounters and actions over political rhetoric.

We then turned to the wildfires in California and how they affected the power grid out there, and whether the climate here follows the west coast and dries out in a prolonged drought - our steep slopes with houses tucked into forested mountains are a bad mix for the same type of wildfire devastation.

There is also concern that America’s power grid is particularly vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

We also talked about how it seems development sort of slides around Pickens and doesn’t take hold here, but we probably don’t have the infrastructure with water and sewage to accommodate growth anyway.

In other words, it was about the type of conversation you might expect an editorial writer and a regular contributor to discuss – all doom and gloom.

But then we sort of noticed that the leaves that sunny weekend were really bright on the road and still catching the sun in the trees. And the views when there were breaks in the forest along the road were true north Georgia grandeur at its best – all yellow and red shining mountain ridges.

And it was really sunny and warm that day, always nice for late November cycling.

And Nimblewill Creek was flowing nicely and clean. 

And there was almost no traffic on the mountain road, which was not even that steep compared with other routes we’d done.

And, we noted that we didn’t have to worry about encounters with guerilla fighters or armed terrorists or riding over a landmine, which in many areas of the world would greatly decrease the appeal of cycling.

We were out riding peaceful roads, with awesome scenery, few houses, lots of trees in fall majesty along a clean creek. Things really didn’t look all that bad from a bicyclist’s view. It’s only from the view that you get by looking at the headlines and worse still from the comments below the headlines that you get worried, mad, anxious and scared about the future.

Undoubtably there are plenty of problems out there, but maybe they aren’t so pressing if you get out every once in a while and enjoy yourself and turn off the political conversations.

As we go into the holiday, I’d encourage everyone to take a view if not from the seat of a bicycle, at least from the same mindset of being outside enjoying this great, safe and prosperous place we live.