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REAL AMERICA

Farther from the insanity

Exclusive: Patrice Lewis says she fears the government as much as the terrorists

There isn’t an adult alive who doesn’t remember that evil day 10 years ago.

Our girls were only 3 and 5 on that sunny morning; and the best explanation we could come up with was that some “bad men” had flown airplanes into buildings in a far away place. As their parents, it was our job to make sure our girls were safe, and that included sparing them the hideous details of the day’s events.

September 11 had an unusual impact upon our household. Eight years earlier, we had left urban California and moved to a semi-rural location in southwest Oregon. During the summer of 2001, we decided it was time to move from our little four-acre farmette onto a larger piece of land where we could raise more cattle and expand our efforts to grow our own food. But where to move? What followed were some hard negotiations between my husband and me.

I was originally an East Coast girl (western New York state) who got yanked to California when I was 10 years old. Forever after, I longed to return to the deciduous climate of my youth. But my husband is a West Coast boy and had never been east of the Mississippi. “I don’t want to give up my dream of moving back east,” I told Don, “until you go there and tell me you hate it.” My logic was, how could he know if he preferred the west if he’d never been east?

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Because we’re self-employed, we had some degree of freedom to move wherever we wished. After some research, we decided to look at West Virginia, which is largely rural and had some affordable property prices. On our tight budget, plane flights were a scarce luxury, but he booked a flight.

Then 9/11 hit.

Then came the anthrax scares.

Then came all the chaos and uncertainty that followed on the heels of that horrible week.

And finally one morning my husband looked at me and said, “If we move back east, we’ll only be moving closer to the insanity.”

I remember those exact words clearly because it spelled the death of my girlish dreams to once again see fireflies, cardinals and autumn colors. Never would I be able to move back east. But I was forced to concede my husband’s point, and we stayed in the west. And that, in a nutshell, is how we came to live in the Idaho panhandle on a 20-acre farm we bought in 2003 for $115,000.

We thought we were already rural when we lived in Oregon, but it doesn’t hold a candle to where we live now. At first we thought we were too far away from urban centers. But you know what? Now we think it’s not far enough.

America has changed in the 10 years since 9/11, and not for the better. Our government, enthusiastically embracing the philosophy of never letting a crisis go to waste, intrudes more and more into affairs in which it has NO constitutional authority. Of course it’s always done this; but the speed and severity of that intrusion has ratcheted up exponentially since 9/11.

That’s why, given our druthers, we’d relocate to a place even more remote than we are now.

What’s the push behind our desire to be ever more rural? It was nothing as concrete as terrorism in 1993 when we left California. Rather, it was an instinctive desire to escape from bureaucratic interference. We do not ask the government to provide our food, pay our mortgage, or educate our children. All we want is to be left alone. And it’s hard to be left alone when you’re living in the city.

So while 9/11 added spurs to our goal, it wasn’t just terrorism we were trying to escape; it was the terrifying reach of an out-of-control beast that wants nothing more than to devour citizens critical of its motives and methods.

This week we heard some ugly comments by the Teamsters Union leader James P. Hoffa regarding the tea party. The tea party, make no mistake, has at its core a desire to return the government to the original restraints outlined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Here is the definition found on Conservapedia.com: “The Tea Party Movement … is an ongoing, nationwide mainstream movement of grass-roots protesters, encompassing millions of individuals and thousands of self-organizing groups, all united in accomplishing a single goal: returning fiscal responsibility and limited government to the United States through the exercise of political activism. The main focus of the Tea Party Movement is a rebuke of outrageous mandates, overspending and a radical agenda by an out of touch federal government with values similar to King George III.”

Hoffa declared, “Let’s take these son of a [bleep] out and give America back to an America where we belong.” Considering the dubious current and past activities of unions, I don’t find it surprising that Hoffa offered the Teamsters’ services to our current president: “President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march.” Later Hoffa refused to back down from his statement, saying the tea party “declared war on us. We’re fighting back.” Obama and other Democratic Party officials have repeatedly refused to condemn Hoffa’s threats.

So now you have it. According to Hoffa, returning our government to the limits created by our founding documents is tantamount to a declaration of war. Apparently Hoffa feels the president is the perfect “commander in chief” to lead this war. Meanwhile the old-fashioned American virtues of independence, fiscal restraint and self-sufficiency are now acts of domestic terrorism.

But remember this: Scrap the Constitution and you scrap America.

Do you still wonder why we prefer to live in the wilds of Idaho? While we are not immune to the long arm of the government here, at least that arm has to stretch farther.

Indirectly it was 9/11 that impelled us toward our current home. But it is the growing intrusion of government into the private lives of its citizens that continues to sharpen our drive to be as free and independent as possible.

One thing has become clear to us: It has come to the point where we fear our own government just as much as we fear terrorists. Both are capable of destroying lives and property. Both are capable of taking away our freedom and independence.

And neither has any plans to leave us alone.

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