Unplugging from the Matrix

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In the early '80's my brother-in-law Kevin took an economics course at George Mason University . His professor, Dr. Walter E. Williams, informed the class that the US dollar was no longer backed by gold or anything else. Kevin didn't believe it, so his prof told him to go and find out for himself. He did. It was the 'blue pill' for Kevin, and Kansas went bye-bye.

As there was no going back to the 'Matrix' for Kevin, he began educating those of us in the family who would listen. He got me reading Ayn Rand, et al, and joining the Libertarian Party. It was really painful for an Irish-Catholic who voted for Jimmy Carter to lose her illusions, but at that point I still believed that our government could and should be salvaged. I had much further to go.

Looking back I realize that I had never ever felt as though I fit in to any crowd ' not even my own family. I was the youngest of seven, female, and my life was pretty well mapped out for me by my parents. I spent 12 years in Catholic school and hated every minute of it. Here's a typical scenario: When we were in second grade and preparing for our First Holy Communion, we were lined up in the church practicing formation (what does this have to do with God again?!?!) Sunlight pouring through the stained glass windows caught my eye. It was so pretty that I turned my head to admire it while the good Sister got the other children in line. When she saw my head turn to the light(!), she sneaked up from behind me and slapped my face.

Now I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that admiring the beauty of sunlight steaming through stained glass windows is closer to God than 8-year-olds standing in formation or anything else that went on that day, unless my Mom had been baking while I was in school, then that would have been the closest thing to God, but nothing else comes to mind. It sure as hell wasn't getting slapped by a nun in church (that's a catholic pun.)

My parents would have liked nothing better than for me to become a nun. NFW, as they say. As soon as I could, I ran like hell as fast and as far in the other direction as possible. (Another catholic pun. I'm Irish, sue me. You'll win a free, lifetime supply of potatoes.) I left behind everything I was taught about how to live and what to believe. Despite a sick sense of terror inside, I learned to think for myself and accept the fact that I was completely responsible for my own happiness, well-being, and choices; in other words, meeting life on life's terms. Isn't that what you're supposed to help your kids do while they're still young?

The rest of my family wasn't pleased at all with my non-conformity and my absolute refusal to kow-tow to anything that had no true integrity to me. I was estranged from the entire family for a number of years because of it. I guess they realized I wasn't gonna come to my senses by the time my Dad died in 1997. I now believe that family is what you make it and where you find it. Sadly, I'd rather be with people who have no interest in telling me how to run my life than most of my siblings any day.

My transition from tyranny to liberty wasn't simple or quick, especially without the safety net of supportive parents beneath me. It's not like I went from hell to heaven in three easy steps or anything. I drank a lot of booze for a lot of years in a vain attempt to numb those old wounds and shout down the screaming paranoia in my head. After that, the universe sent a lot of teachers to me when I was ready for them and I learned to walk the same way everyone else does, with baby steps. But I'm no longer a 'fuel cell' for the powers that be to suck the life out of anymore and I stay sober and keep my powder dry to make sure it can't happen to me again.

I'm grateful that my husband 'gets it.' He had a similar background and upbringing, only Italian instead of Irish. (Did you know that the Italians invented guilt, but the Irish perfected it?) He and I have clung to each other pretty fiercely for the last 25 years - the first 25 years really, of living free. We have two beautiful, non-conformist children who unschool, or follow their own interests, so they have yet to have their natural love of learning 'schooled' out of them. (Luckily, the state of Michigan is quite 'hands-off' home schooling.)

Our son is well-read, makes a living playing poker and studies things he's interested in at community college. (He's one of those teachers the universe sent me. He helped stomp the last remaining vestiges of conformity out of me.) In a couple of years our daughter will be 16, she'll 'graduate' from home school and is planning on going to cosmetology school. (She's also an excellent teacher, who explains to her friends why the public library isn't 'free' simply because there's no charge to get in and why my gun is safer than Ted Kennedy's car ' it hasn't killed anyone.) Both of these young people have strong entrepreneurial leanings. Not bad for the off-spring of two Catholic, working-class parents! I hope they fly under the radar of the omnipotent freaking state as long as possible. Screw the bureau-skanks and their b.s. laws!

'I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid ' you're afraid of us, you're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin . . . I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules or controls, without borders or boundaries; a world where anything is possible. Where we go from there, is a choice I leave to you.' (The Matrix)

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Retta Fontana lives in the Great Smoky Mountains. Children are her favorite people. She loves to connect with readers - please writer to her here: rettafontana@gmail.com