Or perhaps it would be better to say this is a ramble about finding freedom/reality balance — an ideal personal compromise between how much we struggle for the larger ideals of freedom and how much freedom we create in our personal lives.
We’ve talked before about the difference between fighting for freedom and living free — and the difference between studying freedom in theory and using it in your own life.
Nothing creates more burnout among freedomistas than beating our heads against futile causes. Yet there are always causes. And occasionally, freedom wins. So we fight. Even as we lose on 99 fronts out of 100, we fight.
On the other hand, nothing causes more guilt on the part non-combatants than failing to be in the active resistance. Even when we know that we’ve retreated strategically or made sound tactical choices to stay within the system or go ghost or otherwise keep our heads down, we don’t enjoy our lives as much as we hope to.
And surely those who stay out of the fray but have an expert’s ivory tower view as to how the ideal free world would be conducted (because they have read so many books or listened to so many podcasts) must frequently doubt their wisdom and accuse themselves in their dark, solitary moments of failing either to fight or to live.
The happiest freedomistas, paradoxically, are those who fight themselves into exhaustion, then drop spectacularly out to the point not even knowing who their state state officials arebv, even though earlier they’d have known every office holder and every member of their staffs.
That’s what I believe, anyhow. But I don’t know for sure how content those drop-outs are. I’ve known few who’ve made that giant leap, and part of the leap tends to be losing touch with old comrades in arms.
Still, wherever we are now and wherever we’ve been in the past on the spectrum of pugnacity, living, and philosophizing, finding our own best balance point is a hard, hard, thing.
It may come easy to a few lucky souls, but “cause people” tend not to be restful. Even when we’re sitting and looking to all the world like a person relaxing with a book or a video, our minds tend to be spinning, our peripheral selves observing and calculating what others may not observe.
One thing I’ve noticed about myself and my sharpest friends all my life: Even when were trying not to pay attention to the outside world, we’re absorbing news and politics and situations automatically.
I’ll bet if someone included us in a public poll about government and news (not that most of us would even sit still to be polled), we freedomista types — even if we’ve become hermits in the desert — just know stuff most people don’t. News and politics and facts and odd connections here and there.
How does stuff like that even get in? Because we just pick it up as if through our skins, then our heads carry it around.
Sometimes we’re proud because our heads full of information make us look smart. And no doubt we are bright people. But we’re not necessarily better off for being so aware.
Wednesday was an extraordinary day in the PNW. While you midwesterners waited for the North Pole to swoop down upon you, here that afternoon was sunny, 54 degrees, and without a breath of wind.
Coatless, I walked Ava around a waterfront park. Then when we returned to the car, we discovered two old couples from an out-of-state vehicle having a picnic at one of the outdoor tables.
It was a great moment. They were enjoying themselves, the weather, and each other to the full.
So was I, mostly, but I still looked at those couples and wondered … Who among them thought the income tax was a good thing? Which man fought in a war that killed innocent people and made the world less free? Which of them turned over every excruciating detail the Census Bureau demanded and never asked whether they had the power to say no? Who among them cheered the drug war and the militarization of cops? And above all, whatever you did in your past, happy people, do you know, right now, this moment, what forces imperil your world?
But what does imperil their world? Maybe the fates will bring them nothing but picnics in the sun, good travels, much love and companionship, and as good a death as they can manage.
Maybe that’s what’s ahead of us, too, even as our brains busily spin on topics like 21th century civil war, Fourth Turnings, secession, gun-sanctuary counties, nth-generation warfare, and surviving all of the above.
Who knows? We believe in watchfulness and preparation. But are our lives better for thinking such thoughts instead of enjoying the day that’s in front of us?
How successful are we at balancing our knowledge, understanding, and drive with everyday opportunities for peace and happiness?
Here’s that oft-discussed topic: Why do so many talk of fighting for freedom, then somehow dismiss it as immoral to live free lives? As if actually being free in an imperfect world were an abdication?
The fighters might explain something to the effect of, “All that’s necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” or “Freedom requires vigilance” or “Those who surrender freedom for safety get neither safety nor freedom.”
And the back-to-the-landers or the silent Outlaw Ghosts (do-nothings in the eyes of many fighters) would see their point, but also see the belief in the necessity of eternal battle as a diversion from the real thing.
The mindset of eternal fighting creates catastrophe. A whole history of catastrophe. The tragedy of some revolutions and civil wars is that they’re lost. The tragedy of too many is that they’re won. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, except with a guillotine and socialism this time.
All of which is a rather long-winded way of saying it’s important for fighters to do some hardcore freedom living to give them perspective and real-world experience of the thing they’re nominally fighting for.
But it’s also important for freedom-living people to have either spent some time in the trenches or have an active life mission now that helps freedom survive and thrive beyond their immediate circle.
In the beginning, fighting for freedom is both a natural outgrowth of the things we’ve been taught in school and of our youth and determination. For some, being engaged in battles, political or guerrilla, comes naturally all life long. While others fade out or drop out, such hearty souls battle on — and love it (albeit often in their own misanthropic way).
Others drop out and become as invisible as Rayo of Vonu fame. (That’s a good site, BTW, by a pair of young freedomistas.)
Most of us, though, seek balance between those extremes. But … what’s balance?
Is balance living on the knife’s edge between fight and flight?
Is balance doing one thing with passion for a few years, then turning wholeheartedly in the opposite direction?
Is balance puttering in this direction, then puttering in that direction, never in either a pitched battle or a full retreat?
Is balance knowing your inner self so well that you remain unswayed by the world’s whims and currents?
All of the above? None of the above? What is balance for you? And how have you (or are you) finding it?