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I tried a little social media experiment on Bandera County Chat on the Fourth of July, and I’d like to share the results. (For those not familiar, BCC is a group on Facebook known for the often outspoken nature of the opinions expressed.)

Anyway, I had gotten a call from my friend who takes care of my horses, letting me know that they were huddled at the far end of the pasture, which is very unusual for them. They were trying to move away from the fireworks that were going off across the street. I knew they weren’t completely panicked and at risk of hurting themselves, but I still felt annoyed because I’m not a fan of fireworks since I’ve seen people injured and fires started by them.

So I decided to vent a bit on BCC. I simply suggested that folks be aware that they were causing fear to horses and dogs, but I must admit I poked the bear just a little when I concluded with the words “Not that you care.” I half-jokingly told my friend to come looking for me if I didn’t show up the next day; I knew I was inviting heavy-duty backlash, but I just felt I had to offer my opinion anyway. That’s what our freedom is all about, right?

Well, a funny thing happened. While I definitely got the profanity and sarcasm I expected, I got something else that surprised and encouraged me. It wasn’t that so many people flat out agreed with me, although more than a few did. It was the number of comments that fell in the middle ground, some sympathizing with my feelings but asking for tolerance due to the significance of the holiday, and others offering me suggestions about different methods for calming horses and dogs. Most were thoughtful and tried to explain how they felt rather than just criticizing my feelings. This middle group was by far the majority of the comments, and I must say that gave me a much more optimistic feeling about humanity than what often comes from watching the news or reading the paper.

So thank you, Bandera, it’s a lot easier to be part of a community that has room for many different opinions, especially since that was what the Fourth was supposed to be all about in the first place.

- Susan Hull Bandera