Get back to the bright-side basics

Seventeenth-century English philosopher John Locke is widely given credit for writing, with some help from Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina.

Freaked out about what’s happening — and what’s next?

Bummed out about Charleston City Council’s Tuesday approval of both a bike lane over the T. Allen Legare Jr. Bridge and a zoning change clearing the way for the Beach Company to put 324 residential units on its Sergeant Jasper property?

Worried that you soon will be even more tapped out because Charleston County Council, also on Tuesday, approved a referendum for another in a seemingly endless series of sales-tax increases, with much of that new revenue pegged for road construction tabs that should be covered by the state?

Weirded out by the inevitability of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton becoming our next president?

Worn out by terror news and worried that the worst is yet to come?

So what else is new?

Scary times are the norm for our kind.

Consider these anniversaries:

155 years ago today: On July 21, 1861, more than 800 Americans were killed in the first Battle of Bull Run at Manassas, Va. Forty-seven days later, my great-great-grandfather John Frederick Cooper died from complications of a wound suffered in that first large-scale carnage of the Civil War. Folks on both sides were justifiably horrified by the death toll. Yet it ended up being just a drop in the bloody, body-count bucket by the mass-slaughter standards of that transforming conflict.

98 years ago today: On July 21, 1918, a German U-boat surfaced 3 miles from Cape Cod and sank an American tugboat and four barges. Some shells from the German sub landed on shore at Orleans, Mass., the only place on U.S. soil hit by enemy fire during what was then known as the Great War, which President Woodrow Wilson absurdly pitched as “the war to end all wars,” and what became known as World War I.

72 years ago Wednesday: On July 20, 1944, a group of German officers tried — and failed — to assassinate Adolf Hitler with a bomb that killed four people, but not der Fuehrer, at his “Wolf’s Lair” in East Prussia.

62 years ago today: On July 21, 1954, the Geneva Accords divided Vietnam into two countries, north and south. Twenty-one years, 58,000-plus American and more than 2 million Vietnamese lives lost later, north and south were reunited by communist force.

See, this isn’t our first July fraught with peril.

Nor will it be our last.

But before surrendering to despair, check out this much more uplifting anniversary:

347 years ago today: On July 21, 1669, the Lords Proprietors of the Carolina Colony signed and sealed the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, widely regarded as a collaboration by English philosopher/physician John Locke and Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper (the Earl of Shaftesbury, not the late, great columnist, known as Ashley Cooper, for this newspaper).

From a history timeline entry on the Charleston County Public Library website: “Its guarantee of religious freedom, in language similar to Locke’s ‘A Letter Concerning Toleration,’ will have a profound and lasting influence on the development of Charleston’s social fabric, leading to the immigration of such diverse groups as French Huguenots and Sephardic Jews.”

OK, so the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina were disputed, ignored and ultimately rejected. Still, the enlightened document advanced an attitude adjustment that helped pave the way to liberty.

From Walter Edgar’s fair assessment of it in “South Carolina: A History”:

“The proprietors were trying to create a balanced form of government in which no one segment of society could oppress the other.”

So don’t dwell on then-and-now gloom and doom.

Instead, focus on our kind’s continuing quest to do better.

Ponder, too, some inspiring — or at least instructive — words that might sound familiar.

Hey, if Melania Trump, like Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Rand Paul and lots of other copycats before them, can borrow catchy lines, so can the rest of us. For instance:

We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

In war there can be no substitute for victory.

Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

Are you better off than you were four years ago?

Yes, we can.

Never give a sucker an even break.

And saving the best for last:

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.