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01/14/2004 Archived Entry: "A moment of perspective"

A MOMENT OF PERSPECTIVE. Last week I was working with Aaron Zelman on a JPFO alert. The alert was built around two news stories, from which we were drawing Big Implications about tyanny consuming America. Before publishing it, we ran it by the most astute of all JPFO-friends -- who saved us from ourselves. He pointed out that we were way off base; in the second of our two stories, the terrible, tyrannical news really had a far less ominous interpretation. Not an entirely positive interpretation. But certainly a more innocent one than we'd given it.

So we junked the second half of that alert and put the rest aside. In thanking our friend, I cracked, "Oh well. One thing we can be sure of. If we're looking for a better example of American tyranny, we won't have to wait around long for one to show up."

And sure enough, by the very next morning, we had a truly ominous, horrible story with which to complete our alert.

Over the weekend, when I didn't have time to blog much, at least five true horror stories about the loss of privacy and freedom hit the news. This morning, Sunni Maravillosa (who generously sends newslinks to others while searching for stories to cover on Free-Market.net) sighed that today was shaping up as another "good (bad) news" day -- what with stories of VeriSign advancing the goal of a global RFID network and the Bush administration once again pushing for the IRS to use private tax collectors (a move that has serious privacy implications, as well as extending the reach of tax goons). And that's not to mention that the juggernaut of CAPPS II and the color-coding of all air travelers keeps rolling on, despite the fact that nobody but the fedgov -- and its fat-and-happy private database contractors -- seems to want it.

And did I mention the two ghastly actions by the U.S. Supreme Court that the media barely commented upon? One leaving the government free to "detain" people without even saying whom it's detaining, and the other authorizing roadblocks in which cops can stop innocent citizens and quiz us for tips about crimes that may have happened in the area. (Has the Supreme Court ever met a Fourth Amendment violation it didn't love?)

But believe it or not, I'm not here today to focus on bad news.

I didn't blog yesterday and I had a lovely, productive day. The weather was decent after several weeks of rough going. I had just the right amount of work on my schedule (not enough to be frantic, not so little as to get bored and unmotivated) and I got it done efficiently for a change, without interruptions. There was plenty of time for dog-walking, and no emergencies clanged and clammored for attention, either in work, my personal life, or the doggie-welfare world.

Far from the realms of politics and tyranny, I have some hopeful stuff going on in my personal life -- in my relationships with friends, in my favorite dreams for the future, in plain old everyday enjoyment. The last few weeks have been greatly blessed with friendship and kindness, with simple pleasures and surprising ones.

(And although this falls somewhere between the personal and the political, I also have to comment here about the friends of liberty who've rallied to contribute to the defense fund for Jeff "Hunter" Jordan. Although donations have slowed down a bit in the last few days, people responded to Hunter's arrest with a tremendous rush of generosity and support. On those days we despair of freedom lovers ever being able to "hang together" to avoid "hanging separately," what we have done -- what you have done -- will be something to look back on and remember.)

Back to the strictly personal ... Despite the horror stories about the government controlling all travel (which of course it is trying to do), I can still hop in the truck and cruise either the logging roads or the highways, as I choose. Despite having to pay taxes on cabin-sweet-cabin, I can still live in my own home in peace and privacy, unmolested. I can still go plink at the quarry without Charles Schumer or anybody else being able to stop me.

And heck, even on a grumbly-bad day, things are still good enough that I have to laugh at my own self pity. Last Saturday was one of those days. Realities got in the way of me doing the things I'd planned and very much looked forward to doing. I was all disgruntled about it. But as I e-whined to a friend about my frustration and boredom, I realized what I was telling her. I was telling her that -- oh, poor me! -- since I couldn't do what I wanted, I would simply have to cope with this "tragedy" by smoking some lovely bud (a gift from a friend) and climbing into a hot tub.

(And yes, I'll pardon you if you don't feel too, too terribly sorry for my plight.)

It's not in my nature to be a Pollyanna. I'm definitely a "half-empty" person, rather than a sunshiny "half-full" type. And just reading any given week's news is enough to make any discouraged freedom lover want to bite a gun barrel. The bad news is so relentless, so ceaseless.

And yet, for all that we do have a responsibility to pay attention to (and combat) the genuine, growing evil of monster government -- and for all that it truly is a monster -- we sometimes let that monster consume us psychologically, even when it's nowhere near us, physically. (Well, I sure do, anyway. And in a way, that's part of the insideousness of tyrants.)

Dunno about you, but I'm giving myself a little break. Lightening up. For a while, anyway. And it's not in the spirit of sticking head in the sand (or into a TV set). With full acknowledgement of the scary s**t going on out there, we can still say No, Mr. Ashcroft, Mr. Bush, Mr. Ridge. No, you nine black-robed statists. No, VeriSign, MATRIX, CAPPS II, ChoicePoint, Oracle (and especially you, Applied Digital Solutions with your chip implants). No, you may try, but you do not own anybody's life yet. And you never will as long as we hold ourselves in our hearts and minds. As long as we know that our lives are bigger and grander than any part of us you can ever track or quantify or profile.

There is an "us" that you'll never own, and never even understand -- much to your own loss and to our gain.

Posted by Claire @ 09:09 AM CST

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