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02/22/2005 Archived Entry: ""An American Refusenik""

"AN AMERICAN REFUSENIK." Brian Doherty's Reason article, quoted in the last entry, prompted me to revisit this article of mine from a couple of years ago.

It's becoming more true than ever that, for the simple act of refusing a government number, many of us are becoming exiles within our own land, cut off from many of the basics of life.

I haven't used a Social Security number in years. And if I'm ever forced to take a Beast Number again, I'll take it as a sign that I have lost and that freedom has lost. From that moment on, I'll become exactly what the government seems to consider us all: a piece of property in its inventory. My goal then will be to become the most useless and expensive inventory item I can manage to be.

But hopefully that day will never come.

Until recently, I've lived outside the system in most ways but still kept three or four "ties," such as vehicle registration. But with the uncurbed growth of both government power and surveillance (private, government, and horrible hybrid), I'm finding it insupportable to have even that much contact with the villains who think they own us all.

I don't know whether I'll be able to make myself break those last bonds (though freedom-loving friends have already offered more alternatives than I could have imagined). But as I contemplate doing so, I feel both a lot of apprehension and -- somewhat to my surprise -- a soaring sense of freedom.

If I do this -- still a very, very big if -- I'll be nakedly vulnerable (as some better-than-I folks already are). But I'll also be living as totally true to myself as I can. And the worth of that inspires the greatest of great feelings.

I must stress, once again, the power of "to each his own." Whatever choices I make are just that ... choices I make. Others have gone way beyond me in taking principled actions that have made them American Refuseniks and fellow Ghosts. Others remain entirely within the system as Moles or Agitators. All have a role to play. And right now, I don't have a clue where I'll end up.

I just struggle on what's increasingly beginning to feel like a razor's edge. And that edge also defines a terrible irony: If one acts as a truly free person -- neither asking nor receiving permissions from the government to exercise what once were rights -- then one becomes less "free" to travel, work, save money, own property, etc.

For a writer, it's also a strange situation. Because in the eyes of most readers, it's probably "okay" for me to write about freedom -- as long as I pay my taxes, use my number, hold a drivers license, etc. The moment I step outside these abnormal norms, then I automatically become a wing-nut weirdo fanatic in the eyes of the "normal" world and everything I write is inherently suspect merely because it's coming from me.

Therefore, the more I actually mean what I say, the less trustworthy I'm assumed to be. Yikes!

Very strange. Very, very, very strange days.

Posted by Claire @ 09:43 AM CST

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