Saturday, March 6, 2010

Eighteen months in the R3volution

Today the last entries posted from a blog that used to follow appeared mysteriously on the reading list of my Blogger Dashboard. Since I hadn't seen items for this blog, I quickly clicked through to it, excited to find out what was happening with that particular homeschool blogger. Since I had been fooling with the blogs I follow on that list, I thought I had fixed my reading list. Then, as I clicked on links on that blog, I realized that I fallen into a time warp to February of last year. I have no idea why those blog entries from that blog appeared on my list today, and labeled that they had been posted one day ago.

After sending her an e-mail, I suddenly noticed the time warp and realized that my blogging friend appears to have given up blogging last year at this time for reasons unknown. Usually, it seems that those reasons are related to major life changes, that alter the rationale for a blog or that interfere with one's ability to blog. In my admittedly unscientific survey of blogs that have ended, I see very few blogs that have successfully changed the theme or purpose for blogging and continued blogging on the same blog site.

Ragamuffin Studies has changed focus as my life has changed over the past eighteen months to two years. Started as a homeschooling blog, I am still blogging even though the Boychick has made the transition to high school, and even though my focus has changed from his schooling--and my university research, to other topics. I am not sure how successful those changes have been, since I do not meter my blog, but I do know that the number of comments has decreased over this year.

One of the most interesting results of clicking through some of the links to this particular blog, and on to the blogs of other blogs I frequented, was the experience of reading my own comments on those other blogs and realizing how thoroughly my life has changed over the last 18 - 24 months. It is an amazing transformation that grew out of seeds planted long ago; seeds that lay dormant for many years, but began the process of generation through the homeschooling process itself.

In one of my first overtly political posts, called Creeping Fascism, I wrote:

My son is not the servant of the State. He does not owe allegiance to a specific government, office or person. He owes allegiance to an idea. The idea that "governments are instituted among (human beings) at the consent of the governed." If he chooses to run for office or serve in the military--and himself becomes a servant of the citizens, then he will take an oath of fealty. Not to a flag, government, office or person. Rather, he will take an oath to "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." To protect and defend an idea. The idea of Liberty.

This statement, written almost casually, reveals certain assumptions that I have about the nature of government and the importance of the individual, assumptions that were sown as I was brought up libertarian, hearing discussions at Papa's Kitchen Table University that regularly referred to Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand, among others. And although in my young adult years I chose to either ignore political thought and philosophy altogether, or I experimented with various political ideas that took me far from them, the roots of my upbringing and a certain sense of personal independence remained with me, formed as they were in my childhood.

Even when I was not overtly an individualist or a libertarian, the way I conducted my life remained individual and libertarian. I chose to practice my religion, but maintained an idiosyncratic rational approach to its beliefs and stories. I gave birth to my daughter at home, after carefully researching the subject. When certain questions were raised with respect to my views and their impact to my husband's security clearance, I pointed out that my political views were protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution. I used to regularly assert my fourth and fifth amendment rights when passing through the odious INS checkpoints fifty miles inside the borders of the United States. I taught my children to know their rights are and how to assert them in the face of the growing police state within the United States.

During all the years that I voted, I never voted for a single major-party candidate in a presidential election. I tended toward voting Libertarian, although I also voted Green or independent, depending on the candidates. I was outspoken about the bankruptcy of the two-party system.

And in doing these things, I was never afraid. I think that is the way of Americans raised when I was raised. We had a certain, somewhat naive optimism that our government respected our rights and our sovereignty. An optimism that I now know that my own children do not share.

After 9-11, I became aware that certain political ideas that I had been flirting with were neither rational nor idealistic. That event, and the Patriot Act that too swiftly followed, were the dawning of an adult awareness (in my 40's, no less!) that I did not live in the same United States that I was born into, and that my country as I was educated to understand it had not existed in my own lifetime. I had heard these very things said as I listened in on Libertarian meetings during my childhood, but in my very Aspie way, I focused on the United States of the Founders, and thought of the present in the same idealistic way.

In the years following 9-11, when I began to enjoy the fruits of my remarriage and newfound financial security, I took time off from politics and thinking about the implications thereof. I was able instead to focus on making a home for our quirky family and living the life of middle class security. Except. . .

Except that the Boychick was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, and as we entered the special education maze, I realized that we would not be the preppily dressed, straight arrow family of my imagination. (Alas, I would never fit into the Country Club Judaism of our synagogue). And in order to meet my son's needs--and my own, as it dawned on me that I am more than a little bit Aspie--we decided to homeschool him. Which brought me squarely into conflict with the growing notion in this country that our children belong to the state or that they exist to benefit that faceless entity we call "society." And as I observed the growing statism reflected through the legislation and political system of the United States through the lenses of homeschooling, those seeds planted back in my childhood began to germinate and sprout.

Thus, in May 2009, two years after the first political blog entry, I wrote in The Wrong Side of A Do-Gooding Law that:

I was a more than slightly crunchy mom, and my awakening and my return to my libertarian roots . . . was catalyzed by 9-11 and home education. As I began to realize that . . . statists and do-gooders wanted to control what I teach my children and how I raise them, I understood that the only thing that stands between me and absolute tyranny is the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

And during the past 18 months, I see what profound changes in my life were brought about as I went through the stages of awakening to the peril to our liberty; and through the sense of grief and aloneness that waking up caused; and finally into the fullness of awareness that my historical and philosophical explorations have created. I now understand that this is not merely a political crisis--it is a crisis brought on by irrational ideas about what is goodness, and how human beings can best achieve it in order to live their lives in liberty. This mature understanding of ideals that I learned during my libertarian childhood has now brought me full circle and more, to a confidence in living Liberty that enables me to take action and assume leadership through the public espousal of unpopular ideas without fear.

This is the idea of R3volution--action taken to secure for ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty--done out of love and firm resolve, rather than out of fear and mindless violence. Thomas Jefferson understood that the revolution is a turning in the minds of individuals--a change wrought through ideas, and only after such a revolution could a rebellion against tyranny be successful. That if a revolution is to be brought about, it cannot be begun by the initiation of force against others, but rather as forceful defense of the natural rights inherent in individual human beings.

The R3voltion is the process of sparking the idea of liberty in the mind. And only then will the fires of liberty be ignited in the heart, and principled action taken to secure a future in which liberty can be lived.

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