Fond Memories of Hitching

Hitchhiking is something that is simply not done these days, at least where I live, but back in the olden days of the 1970s, I used to hitch rides on a regular basis. Lots of us did, as a matter of fact. And I’m not aware of anyone I knew, or that they knew, hitching a ride to their death… or even to an assault.

Hitchhiking is something that is simply not done these days, at least where I live, but back in the olden days of the 1970s, I used to hitch rides on a regular basis. Lots of us did, as a matter of fact((Though the girls didn’t, and I think they were smart not to. They’d attract far more “No thanks” offers than us boys.)). And I’m not aware of anyone I knew, or that they knew, hitching a ride to their death… or even to an assault.

Hitchhiking was still fairly common in those days. It had begun long before, in the days when few people owned cars. That was a less tormented time of course, before we were trained to see strangers as roving monsters.

To hitch, you’d stand in a safe but visible place at the side of the road, then stick out your thumb and make yourself look harmless. You’d give the person who stopped a good looking over, then get in and go… or occasionally, not.

A typical roadside encounter went like this:

The car stops, and either the driver rolls down the window (not terribly common because a lot of windows had to be manually rolled down) or you open the door.

“Where you going?” asks the driver.

“Peterson and Pulaski,” you might say.

“Hop in” the driver says. “I’m going past there.”

“Thanks!” you say while climbing in.

Rarely did I fail to get ride within 10 minutes on a busy road. You were especially likely to get a quick ride on days when it was cold, snowy, or rainy.

Hippies were always great rides. They were as likely as not to offer you a smoke, but they really didn’t care if you said no. More than that, they were talkative and interesting, and if you were friendly they might go out of their way and take you directly to your destination.

And as I say, I never knew of anyone who had a dangerous ride. I’m sure it must have happened somewhere at some time – among millions of people it could hardly be otherwise – but it was certainly not common. What we learned – and my friends and I definitely compared our experiences – was that most people were fairly cool, if you gave them a chance.

And once we started driving more regularly, we were fairly likely to give people rides as well. We were judicious of course. If there was a large, questionable-looking guy hitching, we’d give him a ride only if there were two or three of us in the car, for example. But we regularly gave rides. In fact, we often slowed down when we saw someone standing in the rain or snow and asked if they needed a ride. And I still do that from time to time, even in the present state of paranoia.

And if you’d like to confront a shocking fact, consider this: Things were a lot more dangerous in my youth than they are today. Take a look:

I haven’t seen a hitchhiker in a long time now, which is kind of sad. People trusting and helping one another is a good thing. The reason hitching dried up, of course, is that people are bombarded by fear 24/7 these days. We weren’t nearly as traumatized “back in the day.”

And given that violent crime was significantly worse in the 1970s, the difference between then and now is pretty clearly attributable to dark propaganda.

More Importantly…

Far more important than crime stats is the fact that we learned at a fairly young age to work without a net.

Hitching required you to choose, to act, to judge quickly, to take responsibility for your own safety, and to hold a pallet of options open in your mind. It was to engage yourself fully with other human beings and even more importantly, with strangers.

And there were hurdles to get over. Not only were our parents unhappy about of us hitching, but cops could arrest you for it too. The legal underpinnings for those arrests were pretty shaky, but cops arrested teenagers whenever they liked back then (in some cases still), fearing nothing and with no consequences that I ever heard about.

And so we had to risk the wrath of our parents and the cops, on top of any other dangers.

Before I close, I want to mention a final benefit we gained from hitching. We learned how to trust and how to be trusted. I think those are very important lessons, and I fear that a lot of people miss them these days, under the reign of permanent fear.

* * * * *

As it turns out, history was never too hard to understand; they just told you the wrong story.

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* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

Why You Can Do Anything You Want… And Why You Can’t

Anything

People frequently tell children “You can do anything you want.” And this causes a lot of confusion, because in the real world, they can’t. And after their first clash with the aforesaid real world, the child is left wondering all sorts of unpleasant things:

Did mom and dad lie to me?

Are they just ignorant?

Am I defective?

Should I find someone to blame?

The worst thing about this, however, is that the child is likely to have their opinion of themselves reduced. And that’s tragic. As I’ve noted many times, we are magical creatures. Humans, alone in the known universe, are able to create willfully… are able to reverse entropy willfully.

The child should think of his and her self as magical… because they really are!

So, let’s make some sense of this problem.

Why You Can

Humans are radically amazing. Sure, we’ve been long trained to consider each other to be sacks of crap – a belief that’s essential to rulership – but it simply isn’t true. We are stunningly capable beings, and we generally behave pretty well, even under the reign of self-debasement.

Take a look around you. Wherever you live, you’re surrounded by buildings, roads, and cars. All of them exist only because of human virtues. Without human creativity, they could not exist. Without human cooperation, they could not exist. And they are everywhere.

We’ve filled the Earth with hospitals and airplanes and food and computers and medicine. And the list could go on almost indefinitely.

More than that, we’ve learned how to cooperate very well. Forget wars; they’re run by competing states and will exist as long as states do. Instead, look at your local soccer league, little league, church choir, and family gathering.

And remember that we’ve been trained to see one flaw in a cooperative group and condemn the whole from it. (And to hypnotically accept any and every flaw of the state.) A few flaws are meaningless compared to modes of cooperation that thrive over decades, centuries, and millennia.

Does being less than perfect make us monsters? Does anything less than 100% equal zero?

So, we are wonderful creatures. And how much better might we be if we dared consider that possibility?

Here’s a quote from G.K. Chesterton that I’d like you to read:

There runs a strange law through the length of human history – that men are continually tending to undervalue their environment, to undervalue their happiness, to undervalue themselves. The great sin of mankind, the sin typified by the fall of Adam, is the tendency, not towards pride, but towards this weird and horrible humility.

Can we dare imagine that Chesterton was right? And if not, why not?

That kind of imagination is what the child needs, and it is that kind of imagination that results in human thriving, as noted by Leon Battista Alberti, the epitome of the Renaissance Man:

A man can do all things if he will.

Yes, that’s a bit overstated, but we have the essential ability to do amazing things, and if we thought and acted like it – thought and acted like Leon Battista Alberti – we’d do a lot more amazing things.

Why You Can’t

There are two reasons you can’t do anything at all. The first is simple: Nature stands in your way. No matter how much we imagine we can do something, if nature doesn’t agree, we can’t do it. We can work with nature to do “impossible” things (building flying machines for example), but we can’t simply violate it.

The second reason is also simple: Other human wills oppose us and stand ready to use violence against us.

This second reason is habitually cloaked in confusing and deceptive terminology of course, but the truth is that adversarial wills and their violence oppose us all.

What we lack is what we can call “a life affording scope.”

Limitations of our scope – weaponized wills set against us – have been colorfully covered by Reason magazine’s “Brickbats” section for decades, but the problem goes much farther than that. I’ll give you a few thoughts on that, then bring this column to a close:

Regulation forbids adaptation.

Obligation supplants compassion.

Only violent and corrupt human wills deserve restriction.

And one more, the “14 words” we used in a previous article:

We are a beautiful species, living in a beautiful world, ruled by abusive systems.

This is why I’ve been drawn to the cryptosphere. Our scope of life within that realm is not obstructed by weaponized wills.

It’s a special place.

* * * * *

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* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

When Was the Last Time You Held a Baby?

HeldaBaby

Have you ever noticed that pessimistic and depressed people avoid babies?

I’m sure there are exceptions to this statement, but on the whole, I think it’s accurate. Dark, gloomy minds shy away from babies. I think there’s something to learn from this.

Here’s another thought: There is a psychological need to be around small children. In The Breaking Dawn, I included a short passage about this:

What the lords of the Order failed to understand was that the suppression of the birth rate was also involved in the suppression of productivity. A junior professor in Iceland had discovered the correlation. His research made it clear that the absence of children from daily affairs depressed people. They needed to see a sufficient number of children in order to function well over time.

And while I can’t point to particular studies, I’m convinced that this is true: We need small children in our lives to remain properly balanced. We become unhealthy when we’re without them for too long.

And so, if these two thoughts are true… or even partly true… they’re something we should pay attention to. There’s something important to gain from them.

Why Babies?

Babies have strong effects upon us because they reset us mentally; they hearken back to less-damaged states in our lives. They are a touchstone… an untainted comparator… a tool to help calibrate our minds and our sense of life.

When we make real contact with babies, we are confronted with raw humanity, newly introduced into the world, headed into unlimited possibilities.

In other words, babies provide a kind of spiritual reset; they take us out of the dark mental ruts most of us live in and confront us with a nearly blank human slate… beings that are suited to far better things than the daily swill most people trudge through.

Hold Her

Pick up a baby next time you can (maybe every time you can), and really look into this child. See the fresh creature he or she is. Think about the kind of world this tiny creature will soon encounter. Can you feel the incongruity of sending this new being into a dark, deforming world?

Holding this child in your arms can you really justify sending him (or her) to something like a torture school? And yes, there are such things, promoted and staffed by our sanctimonious overlords. Babies of two or three decades ago are attending such schools right now.

Granted, that’s a pretty strong example, so how about this:

Do you want to see this child passed-out drunk? Bear in mind that in large segments of the West, especially in universities, getting falling-down drunk, repeatedly, is almost part of the curriculum. And loud, hyper-sexualized, aggressive behavior is expected. If you don’t do it, you’re “weird.”

Is that what you want for this child?

Or do you want to see the sweet boy you’re holding “get ahead” by bribing politicians? To get legislation written to make him rich while thousands or millions of people are deprived of choices and over-pay? To chase status so he can get his hands on as many vapid women as possible?

I dare say that none of us would want such things for the child we hold in our arms… and that’s the point. A baby confronts us with an unjaded being, and with an unjaded version of ourselves.

Without this kind of touchstone – without recalibrating ourselves from time to time – it’s all too easy to become dark, bitter, and hopeless.

So…

So, pick her up, hold her, and look as deeply into her as you can.

Hold the beautiful, tiny boy and imagine the kind of life you want for him.

Let the experience reset you. Let it change you. Start imaging a better world. Then go out and start building it.

The seeds we sow will determine what these babies reap.

* * * * *

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* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

14 Words to Teach Your Children… If You’re Honest

TeachYourChildren

Imagine a pretty spring day, you’re standing on your front porch or some other pleasant vantage point and looking out at a sunlit landscape: trees, grass, and singing birds. Then your five-year-old child or grandchild walks up to you and tugs on your hand to get your attention. You turn and the child asks, “What kind of world is this?”

What do you reply?

This innocent child deserves the truth. You won’t be able to use fancy words or long explanations, but truth doesn’t require those things. This child is ready to hear the truth about the world – he or she is primed for it. This is the kind of moment that comes along haphazardly, and you can’t be sure if or when another might show itself. Your answer may affect this child for the rest of his or her life. What do you say?

The 14 Words

First I’m going to tell you the 14 words, then I’ll explain further. But as you stand on the porch, away from everything but nature and your child, the only intimidations, biases, and slogans present will be those inside of you… and your child should be insulated from such things. You have to speak truth. And as I say, it doesn’t have to be long and complex; in fact it can’t be, if you want to help a five year old.

Here are the 14 words:

We are a beautiful species, living in a beautiful world, ruled by abusive systems.

Later – after true words have sunk into the young mind – you can explain that we’re not a perfectly beautiful species, that most people are often confused and that a few are just plain bad. You can further explain that volcanoes and hurricanes and grizzly bears exist. But if you value your child enough to tell them the plain truth, you’ll tell him or her the 14 words first and let them sink in before getting to the small print.

Now, with that said, I’ll move to some explanation for the adults.

A Beautiful Species

11,000 or 12,000 years ago, humanity – perhaps five million of them – stumbled out from an ice age and began to spread across the earth, most of them having nothing in the way of science and technology. Since then, we’ve learned to fill the earth with food, build machines that race across the face of the earth, sail oceans and streams, and fly through the atmosphere at fantastic speeds. Imagine trying to explain these things to the people coming down from their receding glaciers.

And not only this, but we’ve cured the vast majority of diseases, figured out the smallest parts of the machinery of life, built compendia of human knowledge, made them available anywhere and everywhere, and landed men on the moon.

We are a magnificent species. If that triggers “Never forget the darkness!” voices in you, please hang on to “We are a magnificent species” until they subside.

Here are two passages from G.K. Chesterton’s book, The Defendant, that bear upon dark, automatic thoughts:

There runs a strange law through the length of human history – that men are continually tending to undervalue their environment, to undervalue their happiness, to undervalue themselves. The great sin of mankind, the sin typified by the fall of Adam, is the tendency, not towards pride, but towards this weird and horrible humility.

Every one of the great revolutionists, from Isaiah to Shelly, have been optimists. They have been indignant, not about the badness of existence, but about the slowness of men in realizing its goodness.

You can find the same thing in the Bible, by the way. Theologies be damned, this is what Psalm 82 says, and which Jesus repeated:

You are gods; all of you are children of the most High.

A Beautiful World

This is a beautiful world. Get out and look at it: lay outside on a summer night and gaze at the stars for an hour; explore the wilderness. Don’t watch it on TV; go out and experience it.

It is beautiful. Perhaps not perfectly beautiful, but one flaw among fifty beauties does not negate those beauties.

Abusive Systems

We all know the systems that rule mankind are abusive. I’m not going to go through itemized lists, since we complain about these things every day. You already know. The problem with most of mankind is not that they can’t recognize abuse; it’s that they’ve been trained to think they deserve it.

So, I’m going to make one short statement, then set this point aside:

Unless you think your children deserve to be abused, you can’t tell them government is okay, much less good.

Now, let’s be clear on another thing: Rulership requires us to stay focused on evil. They have to frighten people and portray their competitors as “evil Huns.” They have to publicize threat levels and convince people they need to be saved from impending death. And of course, their dear friends in the media promote evil-consciousness 24/7.

Do you think, just maybe, that all this fear has bad effects upon us?

The Truth

We are surrounded, every day, by people who cooperate, who assist one another, and who care about one another. But those aren’t the things we think about – those are things we’ve learned to ignore. The flashing images of evil surround us and scream at us, after all: The Russians are going to attack, the other candidate is going to destroy all you hold dear, SARS (or bird flu or swine flu or Ebola) is about to kill us all! It’s a long, dark symphony of manipulation.

The truth is we’re a beautiful species, living in a beautiful world.

The systems that wish to rule us are quite otherwise.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

Toddlers Know the Truth… Until They’re Talked out of It

toddlersI’m hardly the first person to recognize that basic truths are more easily grasped by the young and the uneducated. For example, here’s a passage from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to Peter Carr in 1787:

State a moral case to a plowman and a professor. The former will decide it as well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules.

What we generally call “education” and “socialization” are mostly efforts to separate the young from what they know innately. They do know things innately and by simple self-reference. Those things should never be pulled away from them. We are to add to them and clarify them, not take them away.

What Toddlers Know

Toddlers may be ignorant of many things, but they understand basic elements of life quite clearly. And we can see that understanding in the three things we hear every toddler say, over and over:

It’s mine.

You said.

It’s not fair.

I doubt there’s a semi-intelligent adult in the English-speaking world who hasn’t heard those words dozens of times. So, let’s look at the understanding they contain:

“It’s mine.”

This displays a basic understanding of property. Most things – certainly most things a toddler may be concerned with – are either one person’s or another’s. Food, for example: If one child eats a bowl of cereal, that cereal cannot be eaten by anyone else. It is either one person’s or another’s. The same goes for a bed: two people cannot sleep in the same spot at the same time.

Our physical nature requires private property; that’s a very simple and obvious truth, and one that young children grasp. The fact that so many adolescents and adults have been talked out of this truth (confused out of it) shows us the terrible power of authority combined with confusion.

“You said.”

Think about what is implied by this statement: The child expects integrity, even demands it. The same thought, set in adult terms, would be this:

If you say something, you must also act upon it, or else you negate your own words and thus judge yourself to be bad.

Not only is that opinion very clear and healthy, but it is the basis of all contracts and agreements. It is also the basis of morality, and was precisely that in the eyes of Jesus of Nazareth:

By your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.

Talking a child out of this understanding would be a horrific act. I know that people have done this ignorantly – which is certainly less bad for them than doing it purposely – but it doesn’t minimize the damage done to the child… and to the adult he or she will become.

“It’s not fair.”

This is an extension of the child’s understanding of integrity, but it also, at least in older toddlers, encompasses an understanding of equity.

The child judges whether something is fair or not, depending on how it matches the other person’s words. But they also judge based upon exchanges: If we’re doing something together, we should both contribute to the venture. If I put in several items, you should also.

“Fairness,” however, is not simply equality; it is also equity. We all know the concept of equity, though we seldom use the word very well.

If you let me duplicate a report on your copy machine, I should help you in some way, perhaps to help paint your porch. This exchange is not equal – we’re not going to count sheets of paper, ounces of paint and minutes of work – but we will expect the other to do something as a recompense. That’s equity, though not equality. And children come quickly to understand that as well.

Respecting Children

Children may be ignorant, but they are not entirely ignorant. They understand basic concepts early, even if they aren’t yet able to explain them. And those understandings should never be taken from them.

Children should be treated with respect. What they do know should be left alone to grow. What they lack should be added to them… gently.

Yes, children need correction too, but that should be undertaken for the improvement of the child, not the convenience of the adult. Children are adults in a preliminary form. They deserve our respect; we should never talk them out of truths.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Embracing Adventure and Danger

childrenOne of the worst things that has been done to children over the past generation or two has been insulating them from anything that could possibly have any danger attached. Parents keeping their children under permanent watch has become “what people do.” And it’s a BIG mistake.

I know why the parents have done this, of course – we live in a fear-based culture, and it has rubbed off on them. But the reason they have caved in to fear is not important – what matters is that they have harmed their children.

Children – at some point in their upbringing – need to confront danger; they need to explore; they need adventures.

At one time, parents knew this. It wasn’t too many years ago when parents let their kids go off into the woods by themselves, with rifles. If that was really so horribly dangerous, half of us wouldn’t be here.

Is it scary to watch your children walk into a subway station? Or out into the woods? You bet it is! But you have to do it anyway. Calculate the risks, pick your times, pick your spots, watch them from a distance if you must, but let them go out and face the world.

Remember, fear is merely an impulse, and it can be based on lies, distortions, or even on nothing at all. It’s a crazy thing on which to base your children’s lives.

A new German study shows clearly that adventure shapes the individual. As one of the researchers concluded, “Living our lives makes us who we are.” Your children need to live, and not merely exist inside of a fear-inspired bubble. The study also indicates that exploration and adventure not only affect personality development, but also brain growth.

I’m not alone in this opinion, of course. Here are two quotes from John Taylor Gatto, a home school advocate and one of the finest teachers of modern times (one of the most awarded too, ironically enough):

Sensible children do not wish to be incomplete human beings. And so, when you impose a stage theory of human development upon them, you are, in effect, tormenting them; you’re limiting their opportunity… Don’t be your kid’s enemy, because that’s not a kid, that’s your fellow human being. Be a partner, and enlarge their opportunities.

The easiest way to turn your kids into geniuses, by the time they’re seven, is just to front-load huge amounts of experience, including dangerous experience.

Like Gatto, I believe that the real dangers for your children lie in government schools, and even in private schools that function on the same model. Here’s what Gatto says on the subject:

Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy—these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent, on one pretext or another.

Yes, I understand that people are pushed, economically, to put their children into public schools. If you feel like you’re in that position, make sure that you tell your children how the system is set up to condition them. Teach them that understanding is far more important than memorizing. Back them up if the teachers give them grief. Let people talk about you.

Your children should understand, very clearly, that teachers and principals are just average people doing particular jobs; that they are merely another neighbor to the people on their street. Some of them are good people, others are bad people, and a title is just a title – it means nothing more.

Teach your children to be bold, let them learn how to fall and rise again. Of course you want to let them encounter dangers slowly, and you’d never put them in positions to get truly hurt, but you should be nothing like the über-parents who surveil their children’s every move, in terror that poor little Johnny will encounter something that hasn’t been sanitized for his protection.

I’ll leave you with one last quote from John Taylor Gatto: something that applies both to schooling and the larger world:

After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.

Resist the fear, my friends.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com