The affliction termed "Napoleonic Complex" aka "Little Man Syndrome" has historically been attributed to those who overcompensate for lack of height or stature by behaving aggressively or attempting to domineer others as a means of making up for what they lack.
Upon relocating to Vermont 10 years ago to the town of Pownal, it almost immediately became obvious that not only can persons suffer from this malady but in fact a state and even a town apparently can as well, albeit it appears that the American Psychiatric Association has yet to incorporate geographic locales within their official medical definition that describes the diagnosis. I refer to it as "Small State Syndrome."
Similar to little men -- generally defined today as those under 5 foot 8 inches tall, Vermont itself is also a little state. Harboring a presently declining population of merely just over 600,000 and possessing no major metropolis of note such as nearby Manhattan or Boston, some native Vermonters -- many who curiously inhabit the equally little town of Pownal, seem compelled to chronically tout the superfluous fact that their being born there and their continuing to reside there is some type of personal accomplishment.
Most who possess even rudimentary understanding of the Constitutional Right to Freedom of Movement understand it grants all U.S. citizens the right to mobility not only within a specific state but between all states and reads specifically: "The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States."
Whilst obviously everyone is born somewhere it ought to be equally as obvious that being arbitrarily birthed within the state of Vermont is of absolutely no more importance or consequence than being born in Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J., or Happy Valley, Hawaii. That is, of course, unless you begin to correlate the relative lack of goings-on or notoriety within the Green Mountain State to the seemingly frail egos of Vermonters or townies whose only claim to fame always appears to be that either they or their ancestors were born, lived, and died herein and that they too are hell bent upon dying right here and nowhere else.
While the concept is inarguably simple and straightforward, it decidedly is not befitting of that of a particularly high-level achievement nor can it be even remotely construed as that of any low-level achievement either.
And in the tradition of a state wherein its residents thus assess ones measure of success by how long they’ve managed to endure remaining put while so many tour the globe expanding their horizons, the elected at these little town’s select board meetings -- often controlled by locals who possess very little in the way of formal or further education -- attempt to imitate individuals who actually possess position and prestige through bombastic displays of bravado. Witnessing these governmental figureheads who seemingly possess minimal understanding of the most elementary of democratic processes routinely descending into "executive session" in either bib overalls or shorts and sneakers can be a source of amusement.
For anyone who has lived anywhere else other than here or chosen to become somewhat well traveled during the course of their lives -- it is readily known that genuine executives rarely work on cars -- although they do use car services for expedient transport.
Conversely, my introduction to the state of Virginia to winter was altogether different. Virginians are welcoming and warm and decidedly uninterested in happenstances such as precisely where one first entered the world.
Through what has already been numerous conversations, I can attest that I would likely be spied as someone clumsily attempting to ascertain the whereabouts of someone relocated here by the federal Witness Protection Program if I repeatedly broached the topic of origin of birth with any of them.
In the end though, the thought of losing what little you have within some little town located in an equally little state can be petrifying to some who have had little exposure to the world outside the borders of their birthplace.
The constant stunts to stymie and stifle dissenters such as columnists, civil activists, and the elected auditors within a town like Pownal who fight for transparency and the abatement of corruption shall never prevail in the end, for dissent is truly the highest form of patriotism and change is insuppressible.
In September, President Obama attended a world conference in the Big Apple to address the issues of civil society and justice.
He noted the numerous jurisdictions worldwide wherein attempts to restrict free speech and expression are commonplace and cited: "An independent judiciary that is properly functioning ... can serve as an important protector of civil society."
What President Obama failed to recognize is the shameful fact that right here at home in towns such as tiny Pownal reside those who seek to silence the voices of freedom and justice. Any actions taken by the Pownal select board to remove the auditors or otherwise distract them from their duties or bring civil action against them for uncovering probable fiscal impropriety need to be swiftly dismissed.
These independent and unbiased auditors are amongst only the few who challenge a system rife with illegalities and constitute the only "checks and balances" which protect the citizenry from rampant skullduggery.
Kathy Gaffney is a resident of Pownal, Vt., and Cross Junction, Va.