“So, Claire, you open your big yap and tell people they need to be ‘ungovernable’ if they want to be free. That’s easy to
say. Question is, just what do you propose we do?”
I looked up from the day’s unidentifiable special at the Hog Trough
Grill and Feed. There was Grouchy — Hardyville’s well-named gun store
owner — standing with fists on hips. He demanded, “You make big noise
about freedom. So why don’t you tell all us ignorant folks, now? What
should we do about it?”
“You can’t describe that in 25 words or less.”
“I don’t think you can do it in 25 or more. I think you just want to
make speeches and send people off on heroic-sounding wild-goose chases.”
“Just a darned second. First of all, I put lots of how-to stuff about
freedom into my books.
And my columns. It’s
there — hundreds of ideas and leads. But no way am I going to
‘tell’ other people exactly what they ought to do to be free.”
“I thought so. No guts.”
“Uh … some guts, Grouchy. But even more brains. Look at the
situation. It’s getting more obvious that legal methods aren’t going to
move statist control freaks. It might not take violence. I hope it
doesn’t. But it’s going to take resistance — including lawbreaking.
It’s going to take people saying, ‘I ain’t applyin’ for your digital ID,
ain’t puttin’ my data in your database, ain’t registerin’ my guns, ain’t
obeying your illegal regulations, ain’t bein’ nice to your thugs, ain’t
putting my children into your clutches, ain’t feedin’ your tax gobblin’
beast one more dime.’
“That’s what it’s coming to, now. But any writer who says, ‘Everybody
should go right out and break Law X,’ is nuts — and dangerous to people
who choose not to think for themselves.
“The best strategy isn’t for people to wait for alleged ‘experts’ to
tell them what to do. The best strategy is for people to study the
options, then do what they judge to be right and
“That’s a cop out.”
“No, for cryin’ out loud, that’s freedom! The
dictators’ way is to say, ‘Everybody has to get behind Program A,
or else. March, march, march.’ Our best way is to come at the
control freaks from so many individual directions that they end up
spinning like tops trying to deal with us. Constitutionalists,
libertarians, minarchists, anarchists, Christian patriots, pagan
patriots, Vonuists, radicals, conservatives — we’re all different.
Sometimes that’s a drawback. But it can be our biggest advantage if our
aim is to confuse the plans of the alleged mighty.
“Software engineers, homeschooling mothers,
microbiologists, good cops, students, writers, accountants, even
disillusioned bureaucrats — everybody — we’re all in positions to
practice different forms of resistance. Just living by our
principles can be an effective action, all by itself. Let’s take
advantage of our strengths. And vive la difference!”
“You can’t win a war with everybody deciding his own strategy.”
“I’m not trying to win a war. I’m hoping we can destroy a wannabe
tyranny before it makes total war on us. We’re stronger than we know.
Too many of us don’t realize where our strength lies — or aren’t
willing to take the risk of using our individual strengths.”
“That’s New Age, fuzzy-wuzzy BS. ‘Oh, if we just think strong
thoughts, we’ll be strong.’ Sure, Claire. I’ll go home and start
reciting my affirmations right now. They’ll help a lot when the ATF
comes kicking down my door.”
“You’re missing the point. On purpose, I notice.”
“Then what’s the point?”
“That freedom begins with mindset. But that freedom also
requires action. Intelligent action. Probably risky action. But action.”
“The first action is thinking. Stopping. Asking
ourselves, ‘What kind of world do I want, and what can I do — I, me,
myself, not some person in Washington — to get one step closer to it?’
“Then we need to assess, as best we can, the risks of any
action, and be realistic about our own willingness to take on
“We also have to think about what we will do in common
scenarios. There are lots and lots of people who tell me that on
some unspecified day, under some unspecified purpose, they’ll happily
stand up and die for liberty. Maybe so. But most of those same people,
faced with everyday choices between freedom and unfreedom, choose
unfreedom because it’s more convenient.”
“Like if some officious jerk asks for their Social Security tracking
number, they give it automatically. ‘Oh, golly, wouldn’t want to lose
that credit card, that mortgage loan, that job, that government benefit,
that phone service. I sure would like to
have my privacy, but gosh, I want those goodies even more.’ So they
cave. They get state permits to exercise rights. They meekly submit at
police checkpoints. ‘Wouldn’t want to rock the boat. After all, it’s me
against them.’ They pay their taxes, no matter how much they say
they object to the very things they’re helping to make possible.
“Then they say they’d die for the very things they won’t bother to
Grouchy objected, “You can’t expect everybody to risk his whole life
every day. It’s dangerous to tell some fed-up fed at a checkpoint
about your Bill of Rights. People can hardly live, these days, without
using their Social Security numbers. You can’t just ask people to risk
everything to make some point.”
“Oh, so now I’ve gone from fuzzy-headed do-nothingness to urging
people to risk their lives and well-being on crazy actions, have I?”
“But either way, I’m not. I can’t decide a single thing for anybody
else. All I can do is stand here, waving my arms and shouting, ‘Hey,
don’t wait for anybody to give you your freedom. Freedom is up to
you.’ Talk isn’t enough. Every freedom lover needs to
act — directly, intelligently, courageously — for freedom.
Nothing else is going
“But there are a million different ways. Maybe someone goes ahead and
submits at that checkpoint — then strikes back against the Gestapo later. Maybe you ‘stay
legal’ on your taxes — while hacking a
government database in your spare time. Maybe you give your Social
Security number — but mix up the digits or give a number you’ve acquired
through stealth. Maybe you walk obediently by the surveillance cameras
by day, then return at night to shoot them out or spray-paint their
lenses. Maybe you have your very own thing to do that I could never
think of and will never know about because you’ll do it so
quietly and so well.
“Maybe you just decide to live your own life in freedom, no matter
what barriers the controllers build in your path. That can be the
hardest, most gutsy, action of all, these days. Try it and see.”
“You’re gonna get people killed.”
“No. People — including some of the dearest and best — may
Or arrested. Or subjected to Kafkaesque persecutions. But how many more
are going to suffer if we don’t turn around and kick government back
into its place? You want your kids to grow up in some bland, post-Soviet
state — well-fed little zombie tax-generating ‘human resources’?
Disarmed? Without privacy? With happy little benefits and zippy-zappy
entertainments, but no rights at all?
“If that’s what you want, then go along, get along. Complain, but
obey. No, you won’t get hurt. But you’ll never really feel good, either.
And your children and grandchildren will feel worse.
“Yes, it’s dangerous. But that’s how freedom is won. By a bunch of
stubborn cusses who refuse to live any other way.
“When did we get to be so scared, anyway? So bloody compliant?
On what day did we all decide to go along with the fiction that the
government ‘requires’ obedience of us — rather than that we require
obedience of it? On what day did we decide freedom wasn’t worth living
for, as well as dying for? Where? How? When?
“I don’t really have much hope that we’ll wake up in a free country
someday. But at least we can make the job harder for those who want to
control us. And even if that’s all we achieve, at least we can live for
a while in a spirit of freedom, instead of always cowering in fear or
seething with frustration.”
“There are safer ways, Claire.”
“Yeah. I’m sure. There’s also an old Malvina Reynolds song that
pretty much says all we need to know about those.”
It isn’t nice to block the doorway.
It isn’t nice to go to jail.
There are nicer ways to do it,
But the nice ways always fail.
When you deal with men of ice,
You can’t deal with ways so nice.
So thank you, buddy, for your advice.
But if that’s freedom’s price
We don’t mind.