The view from down here

The Patriot Pill

June 26, 2008

I read my brother-in-law's blog tonight about the Patriot Act. He is understandably angry at the intrusion of freedom. I am happy to see that anger. It is refreshing to see someone who understands that security is not gained by giving up freedom. After all, who has a greater capability of harm, terrorists who can only take out a relative few, or a government that can spy on, tax, control, and lie to an entire nation as it drags her children and its economy through an illegal for-profit war?

I have spoken out for liberty for a long time now, and my reward usually has been to be called everything from an idealist to an idiot. Once, when discussing the benefits of privatizing education, people told me that most parents don't care enough about their children to bother to send them to school if they didn't have to. I even ran for office twice. First for state representative, then as a group challenging our township board of trustees.

Eventually I gave up because I realized I was preaching atheism to big government believers.

People have forgotten how to be free. They want security, and so they are willing to let the government do whatever it wants to give them that illusion.

Sometimes it takes something as egregious and extreme as the Patriot Act to get people's attention. It is tempting to wonder how long it's going to take before The People rise up, march in the streets, and, as Mr. Jefferson said, refresh the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

But that's not necessary, there's a much easier way to take the country back. Easier, I mean, than bloodshed and mayhem. It is, however, quite a bit more difficult than watching syndicated sit-coms and yet another episode of Law and Order - again.

We have become accustomed to quick fixes, pills, and no-money-down real estate riches.

You don't get healthy popping the latest pill cocktail from the pharmaceutical-industrial complex. You get healthy by eating well, exercising, and generally keeping your life in order. But why bother if you can take a pill?

Why bother actually being free when we can imagine the quick fix of a gun? A pill and a bullet are not that different. I could swallow a bullet if I wanted to, but I don't think it would help very much.

Like the health of your own body, the health of the body politic comes from doing healthy things. What does it mean to be part of the We The People if you don't act like it, if you only show up to vote once every four years or so and you don't even recognize any names on the ballet except the presidential candidate or a senator?

Imagine what it would take to drive people to literally take up arms against an oppressive government, and then compare that to the effort involved in doing some very simple and mundane things, such as sitting through your city's board meeting or a session of the school board. When was the last time you spoke to your state representative? Do you even know his name, or if he's a him? Did you even know that you have a state senator? Do you know the names of your Representative in Congress or what committees he or she sits on? You probably know at least one of your senators, but do you know anything about their voting records?

We don't need a civil war. All we have to do to take back the country is to show up. We don't need heros jumping over fences with loaded rifles. We need heros who will run for local office and tend to the business of the people.

Imagine a militia of grass roots freedom fighters. You don't have to march barefoot in the winter or be away from your children. These heros wouldn't have to fire a shot. Go to your town council meetings. Volunteer for that open position in the tree council. Learn how your community works. Run for office. You don't have to take over the government. Everything is in place, right now, for the people of this country to rise up and be the government.

We have become separate from the government not because of despotism and tyranny, but mostly because we simply don't give a damn. It's easier to point and complain than to step up and be a part of the solution.

And in the presence of good men doing nothing, evil will do what it always does.

The sad thing is there are probably more people who would prefer to take gun in hand and get it over with than to sit down and help the nation be everything it is supposed to be. But, sadly, that wouldn't work. The only thing you get with guns is a different dictator. True patriotism lies not in showing anger against the government, but in taking part in the ...

Oh! Gotta go. Two and a Half Men just came on!

Copyright 2008 Daniel LaFavers