"The most common characteristic of all police states is intimidation by surveillance. Citizens know they are being watched and overheard. Their mail is being examined. Their homes can be invaded." ~ Vance Packard
Jaywalk to Freedom
Liberty is never up for grabs; it must always be taken by force. There are usually costs and even risks to life and limb. Drivers of the Chariot of Independence don't have the luxury of seatbelts or airbags, yet they gladly put their lives on the line in hopes of achieving self-determination. In the heart of a rebel there can be no greater dream and no higher aspiration. The exhilaration of freedom is without peer. Of course, if you or I endeavor to achieve independence we'll be in big trouble. We would attract attention from demented people with large weapons and small brains. So maybe we could just snatch thirty seconds of it then duck for cover instead. Political banter will never be the same. Imagine yourself six months into the future when somebody asks,
"Who did you vote for - the liar with the beady eyes, or the woman with the big chin?"
And you have a refreshing new answer:
"I voted that I want my money back. And I voted with my feet."
They will inquire,
"What do you mean?"
You will reply,
"On this past election day, for one brief moment, I took back my liberty. The right of self-determination once enjoyed by our forefathers was firmly in my grasp. Its gone now, but I'll never forget what it was like; maybe some day I'll snatch some more. It was that good. "It all started a few months ago, when I was sitting around feeling sick about being forced to pay all those taxes. I pondered the fact that the federal thugs steal more than half of our earnings. The choking vines of government seem an ever-tightening net. Sometimes I would give anything for just one breath of freedom, but I thought that I was powerless to win it on my own. There seemed no way for one individual to cast this vile, suffocating parasite aside and be liberated. And now, once again, we were mocked by the question of which lying, thieving murderer will head the very organization that commits crimes against us. "So, I asked myself, will I participate in deciding which criminal gets to spend money that was stolen from myself, my family and my neighbors? No. That would be sick. I need a new plan and, to get the right one, I will face the truth squarely then start from there. And the truth is that, rather than endure the state and its dangers, costs, embarrassments and pestilence, I would prefer to have my money and my freedom."
By now, a crowd has gathered tightly around you. Pausing, you recall that heretics are boiled in these parts. But there appear to be no hostiles in the group, so you lower your voice and continue,
"I wanted to do the right thing. I yearn to minimize the damage done by these crazies just like everybody else. But my true vote is that we scrap the whole bizarre charade and make those politicians get real jobs for a change. Selling used cars in Iraq might be a good fit, but that's none of my business. I just want my money back. "And then I realized! The only true vote I have is with my feet. The clouds parted and I became enlightened. I decided that, rather than hate myself for the rest of the year, I shall rebel. The plan that finally set me free was born; I sprang to action and made preparations. "I got out my favorite boots, a pair of scissors and some paste. Searching the newspaper, I located photos of both candidates and cut them out. Next, I pasted the pointy-chinned woman on the sole of my left boot and the beady-eyed liar on the sole of my right boot. "Then I waited. "And when November 2 reared its ugly head, I put the boots on and drove toward the intersection of Bushwhack Trail and Kerryjerk Circle. There's a good signal-light there and not one donut shop for five miles in any direction. The chances of running into a cop at that corner are almost nil. "When I arrived, conditions were perfect. Traffic was light, there were numerous witnesses and visibility was one hundred percent. These people, I thought to myself, are about to observe seismic political activity courtesy of the Jaywalk to Freedom. They shall record my vote to dismantle an institution that breaks its own rules and betrays its own clientele. My heart thumped loudly and I felt a searing rush as I prepared to exact revenge. "I parked as close as I could then walked to the curb and prepared to execute my plan. My chest puffed forward and the adrenaline flowed. Everything went into slow motion as I scanned the faces of the pathetic, compliant sheep around me. I alone would ride for liberty, I thought. "Then the light turned red and the ominous flashing sign appeared. Don't Walk! Traffic flowed loudly until the final car sped past. Then there was silence. Safety of passage was now assured, but the State prohibited crossing. Every muscle tensed to steel; this was the moment I had been waiting for. It was time to take the gloves off. "Lurching forward, I became an outlaw. Abject terror flooded with the exhilaration of independence engulfed me as I strode ahead in manifest rebellion. My vote was registered by earth-shaking stomps and the din of crackling paper faces slapping against pavement. I felt more powerful than a thousand supernovas. "Then came a shock that would change my life forever. There were a hundred yellow ribbons 'round the old oak tree. To my left and to my right I was flanked by my brothers and sisters in bondage. But now we were together, marching forward and united in defiance. Tears began to flow as newfound respect for my fellow citizens poured into my heart. We were crossing against the light as one; I was far from alone."
A woman at the front loses control and starts to shake and sob. Gently, you furnish a hankie and allow time for her to recompose. The crowd is visibly moved, so you wrap up your message and, with compassionate conviction, deliver your summary,
"You see, to walk toward a voting booth is to walk toward bondage and servitude. But to jaywalk in the light is to radiate the spirit of truth and liberty. "And, on that fantastical day, I learned that we all share the same innate desire for freedom; the same need to master our own destinies. Things may look bad right now, but if you give people enough of a chance they'll surprise you in the end. "Take heart! Secretly we are all together on this. Nobody likes to be pushed around, stolen from and lied to. And, someday, the person you least expect anything from will find a way to resolve the problem once and for all."
Your work here is done, and as you make your way towards the exit, a sensation of hope drifts through your awareness. And you have to wonder: Will one of them concoct the final solution?