Monday, July 1, 2013

The Profundity Of Living Free

I'm not sure if I'll ever really be known for making any profound statements or pronouncements. I often quote the profound (in my opinion), three word statement, "Life is difficult," made by the late M. Scott Peck in his landmark book, The Road Less Traveled. I quote it because it's true.

There is profoundness about living free. We live in a world that, while we continually hear talk about living in a "free country" or a "free society," it is, in reality, not truly free. I don't think I'd be challenged if I said that we, who live in the, so-called, "free country" of the United States of America, the good old U.S.A., probably have more laws, regulations, rules and covenants controlling virtually every facet of our lives than any other country in the world. I would venture, further, to say we could multiply our laws, regulations, rules and covenants by a couple magnitudes, at the very least in comparison to most other countries except, maybe, England.

Is This REALLY a Free Country?

Here is a reality. In the United States we have federal laws, state laws, county (or parish) laws, city, town or village laws and neighborhood or community covenants. And, to add more complication and confusion into this mass of controls, the laws, regulations, rules and covenants often (very often, actually) conflict between the various jurisdictions. So, you're breaking laws when you're complying with the laws?????

Here are three examples. First, while some states have legalized marijuana either on a medical basis or, even as a recreational drug (like alcohol is) it is still against federal law. So, the state says go ahead; grow it and smoke it and the federal DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), FBI and other federal agencies can still arrest someone for breaking a federal law.

Another example is that 13 states have approved and recognized legal marriages between same sex, transgender and bi-sexual couples and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled these marriages are constitutional as allowed by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. But, at the same time, cross the border and choose to live in a state that hasn't recognized such marriages and, viola, the marriage is null and void and there are no spousal rights.

A third example is assisted suicide laws. Currently, only four U.S. states and a few countries recognize legal "assisted suicide." Assisted suicide is not euthanasia  (or putting someone to "sleep" as we do with animals in pain). But, it is still illegal under federal laws and one is subject to arrest and being tried for murder or manslaughter or possibly conspiracy. 

These are only a few of the more controversial issues. I don't have time to list them all nor do I wish to bore you. You know what I'm talking about. And, some of these laws, regulations, rules and covenants control how long your grass may be or how brown it can become during dry seasons. You can be cited and fined. If you live in a community with a home owners' association you may only be allowed to paint your shutters, front door and garage door with a certain, prescribed palette of colors only available from a certain brand and store. If you choose to have a hobby, such as amateur radio, you may be under federal (FAA) laws, city or town ordinances and community covenants as to any antenna structures you want to erect to enjoy your hobby. It could take from months to years to gain all the permissions and permits and this is after you've already obtained a license from the FCC that permits you to operate your hobby radio station.

Please notice that I have not even entered the realm of religious doctrine and dogma, professional or occupational associations or unions, corporate or company rules or the "Court of Public Opinion.”

The Court of Public Opinion

I love the "Court of Public Opinion." I'm going to abbreviate it to CPO. These are non-written rules that control any number of things, don't require you to be charged with a crime or go to an actual court to be adjudicated and then be convicted of a variety of supposedly heinous things as determined by the committee of "They." One of the most interesting examples of the CPO is the recent character assassination of one, Ms. Paula Dean, a southern restaurateur, cookbook author, entrepreneur of a business that promotes a line of cooking utensils and accessories and a cable TV cooking show personality. Now, let me state for the record, I don't know Paula Dean. I've never been to a restaurant owned by her. I don't own any of her cookbooks. I don't use or own any of her branded utensils and, while I've seen her on a few talk shows and seen promos for her TV cooking shows, I don't recall ever watching one of them.

Thirty, forty and fifty years ago in the southern United States there was a very different culture and society. It was a society that segregated the black and white races. It was a mean, cruel, often lawless and brutally discriminatory society. It was the unfortunate remnant of an even earlier time when there were slaves in this country. Of course, our history books and TV shows and those who have a political and racial agenda don't want the public educated to the truth about this terrible time in our history. We all puff out our chests, put our hands over our hearts and proudly sing the national anthem as though we are the pinnacle of righteousness, fairness and piety. That is pure bullshit. We have been, throughout our history and even to the present, an immoral, unethical and brutally murderous country.

We gloat over being the ONLY super power left in the world with our massive 11 aircraft carrier groups, nuclear weapon arsenal, a stealth Air Force and advanced Army and Marines. What that means is that we have the power, if we choose to, to do what we did to the American Indians who were the indigenous inhabitants of this continent before we came and took their land, destroyed the forests, virtually annihilated the buffalo herds and massacred an unknown number of men, women and children through the white man's lust and greed for power. There may not be a lot of people in this country who know that there were some 3,000 owners of black slaves who were, themselves, free black men. The black race condemns the white race for slavery, yet slavery was practiced freely in their native land of Africa and the African chiefs actually sold many, if not most, of those who ended up as slaves in the new world, to the white traders. But, there were also white slaves in this country and when Asians, especially from China began making their way to the United States, many of them were treated as little more than slaves.

But, that's enough of the history lesson and back to the CPO and Paula Dean. I have not followed this story on a day-to-day basis. I find it another grandstanding effort by the mass media and by certain elements of our society, for whatever reason, to assassinate someone's character and destroy a life. Here are the facts as I see them. Paula Dean, once upon a time, used a word that was fairly common in the colloquial and slang of the day. I heard the word, I even heard my father use it and, though I don't use the word to describe anyone of any race today, I'm sure as a youngster growing up in a society that used the word, I probably used it from time to time, too.

No! I'm not from the south. I'm from 10 miles west of New York City. I went to a high school with about 4,000 students of which only three of them were black and we had very few other minorities since we were basically of white European ancestry. One of the black kids was in my class of about 800. Richie was just one of the guys. He was on our football team and he was well liked. I even had the great fortune to attend college with Richie, though we didn't see much of each other since we were in different majors and hung out in different circles. The point being that 50 years ago was then and this is now. I was also brought up in a world of male chauvinism, but I doubt that you'd find anyone who considers me a male chauvinist today. The world has evolved and so have we all, hopefully.

The Double Standard of the Court of Public Opinion

Now, to once again, show the double standards by which we live in this "free society" and, so-called, "free country," let's take the standard bearer of our country. Yes, I'm referring to the current President of the United States, Barack Obama. I'm not going to do any political grandstanding and I am not making any racial implications, though you may read that into this, so I don't give a damn if you're a Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, black or white, man or woman or anything else. I'm simply going to state some facts.

Citizen #1 of our country, duly elected by the people of this country to represent us to the world, and supposedly the most powerful man and the leader of the "free world," is an admitted user of illegal drugs. It's in his own books, written by him. He did that, not in the 50's and 60's, but in the late 70's and 80's. Yet, we have elected him to this position and put him in charge of the most powerful military the world has ever known and given him the keys to the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, enough to destroy the entire planet. But, he's an admitted drug user - a long time ago. I'm assuming (and seriously hoping) that he no longer uses any of those drugs. What happened to the CPO in this case?

I'm not going to go any further into this other than to say that it's okay for him to have done something very illegal and not only be given a pass, but raised him to the highest position in this country, even the world. Yet, a little southern woman, who happens to be a successful white, entrepreneur and free enterprising individual used a word, which is not illegal (maybe not nice, not socially acceptable, hurtful), considerably before our president broke the laws of the land. Her public image isn't even a close second to Citizen #1. But, she is crucified, has had her character assassinated and her businesses seriously damaged, if not destroyed. Yet, she broke no laws. She has been tried and convicted in the "Court of Public Opinion."

"I Don't Care!" 

Yes! That's my profound statement! I don't care. In order to live free in this very oppressive society where fairness and justice are only platitudes and not really practiced equally, I can't care. I have to find whatever ways I can to distance myself from all the laws, regulations, rules and covenants that control and contradict one another. I have to find the way to live as freely as possible in a society that is at it's core a paradox and a sham of an ideal that doesn't truly exist.

Sure! There is no way I can truly escape the masses of laws, regulations, rules and covenants that are required to maintain some degree of civility. And, I know lots of people are going to tell me that this is a very different world than it was when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments. I don't have to go there. Heck! It's even a different and far more complex world than it was when I was growing up in the 40's, 50's and 60's. I've lived through all or part of the administrations of 13 presidents. I've seen massive changes in just the leadership styles over these 13 people. I have to comply with the laws of the land, as they exist, if I want to live here, however, only to the degree that they directly impact me and I can minimalize their impact.

Escaping the Rut

Most people in this country and most other developed, so-called, free societies and free countries (the U.S. is not the only one), have chosen to live complicated, costly and oppressive lifestyles. People, no matter what culture or society they are fortunate or unfortunate enough to be born into, begin the conditioning process from the very earliest age they become educable and trainable. The vast majority of all populations will fall in line in the rut and live lives of quiet desperation. They'll accept it because they've been conditioned to. But, I did say "most," not all.

The reality is, and thankfully so, that there is very small percentage that refuses to buy the "package." There are those who learn how to express themselves in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, some of those are antisocial and a topic for another discussion. But, others become inventors, artists, musicians, composers, entrepreneurs, adventurers and other forms of expression that don't fit into the pre-conditioned rut. These are the individuals who find ways to break the mold, the rut of quiet desperation. Some become financially very successful. Others become a variety of different kinds of role models, some better than others. Some become those we admire for their non-conformity and individualism.

They often live alternative lifestyles and forego the trappings of "proper" society. They may choose to live out of backpacks, in travel trailers, vans, motorhomes, on boats, in tree houses, in underground houses, on mountain tops in isolated rural parts of the country, in free form lofts in big cities and as well as many other alternative lifestyles. Some make large sums of money and expend it on their unique lifestyle. Others make large sums of money and find ways to put that money to work helping others realize their dreams. Still others don't place any importance on financial means and generate only what is required to provide them with their simple needs to live free and comfortable by their own definition. They don't care, either. Living free means you can't allow anything external that you have no control over to control or influence your life.

I feel sorry for Paula Dean and what the CPO is doing to her. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't think she deserved what happened to her. But, I can't do anything about it, so I can't allow it to distract me. I'm completely disillusioned by our U.S. government (and all the other levels of government in our country), but I can't do anything about them either. My vote is useless in the real scheme of things because I'm one of that tiny percentage of people who refuse to fall in line and walk down that rut. So, my vote will never have any weight because no one in any political or government office truly represents me or cares about me. They simply want whatever they can get from me to further their objectives.  Actually, they don't even represent the people in the ruts that elect them, but those people are indoctrinated and conditioned to believe they do. So, they'll keep electing people to office who only care about their own interests and not those of the conditioned masses.

I Can't Care!

I feel sorry for those in our military and their loved ones who are killed, maimed or come back as zombies having had their minds irreparably messed with by war. But, I can't do anything about that. Once upon a time, I was one of them, under the duress of the old "draft" conscription system. I was fortunate to leave the military better than I entered, but that took effort on my part. The military had other plans for me., I also can't I do anything about the Benghazi scandal, the IRS scandal, the Edward Snowdon/NSA scandal or any of the myriad other government scandals and boondoggles.

I don't care. I can't care. They are issues that I can have no impact on. That's one of the reasons I don't pass around the emails I receive on all these issues that I can't do anything about. Why should I waste my priceless time on something that I'll have no impact on? A life is too valuable to waste like that. Besides, I've already wasted too much of it thinking I could actually make a difference in things that were far beyond my control.

Now, this doesn't mean I don't care about everything. Actually, I do care. I care about my friends. I care about family. I care about helping other individuals who know there is something better for them outside the pre-conditioned rut they are stuck in. I care about reaching out and giving anyone an opportunity, a shot at an alternate lifestyle, one of living free. But, I've reached a time where whatever I choose to care about has to be something I feel I'll actually be able to see some kind of positive results and that supports my choice to live free.

So, how about you? I appreciate your time to read this blog. I'm hoping you're reading it because it gives you reason to take pause and think. Where are you on the rut spectrum? Are you in it plodding along, back to front with the rest of the masses? Are you climbing out? Are you on the edge looking in at the people still in the rut? You can't care about those who have chosen to just continue owning their pre-conditioning and indoctrination. You can't care about those who choose to just keep plodding along, not sure what real freedom and true happiness are really about. They have bought into the false dream and myth. They are happy with their government mandated and rationed soma, the drug that provides an induced feeling of happiness and bliss as described in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. But, you can care about that one hand that reaches out to you every now and then, hoping that someone will give them a hand out of the rut and their soma induced stupor.

Living free is, in itself, a profound statement about the nature of our lives and our world.   


Marshall Ellgas said...

Ed, I see the Paula Deen case as a gold-digger media queen getting her due. From withholding the diabetes diagnosis to the racism it was all about gold digging w/o regard for others. Pure hypocrisy and thats why she is going down. My guess is that all these companies who have been dealing with her know much more about her than what they are saying. There is a TV face and then a real one.

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

What you say may be true, Marshall. But, nothing that I know of that she is being crucified for is actually criminal nor has it physically hurt anyone else in the past 25 or 30 years. She has been charged, tried and convicted of non-crimes or even a civil breach by the Mass Media and a group of people who have a much bigger agenda - that of diverting public attention from matters that really are of extreme importance, can directly impact and harm people individually and are very likely illegal and unconstitutional. Do you notice that we've heard less to little about Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the NSA surveilling us, the deficit, the sequester impact, the federal budget that doesn't exist after four years and other considerably more important issues. So, like I said, The CPO operates under a double standard system and can destroy anyone it chooses without warning, cause, recourse or redress. "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." I'm certainly not going to pick up a stone.