All posts by Amanda

Keep Climbing the Hill

” Consistency is what shapes you” ~ (Thanks, Massey Campos, I’m trying!)

Real Life Entry: It’s Thursday afternoon, and I have hours of work yet ahead of me. I am behind – on so many levels. So much is on my mind, and I am headed into a very busy weekend of double shifts. I want to write about what it looks like to really take responsibility, but I don’t even know where to begin with how that looks in my life.

This year I have learned that I have not aged as graciously as I might have liked. My patience for 20-something, self absorbed drama queens in the workplace, has waned. I’m over it. This is probably highlighted for me by the fact that my last team of coworkers was absolutely incredible, and my boss, the best I ever had. The transition to here and now, glaringly stands out from that. But, I don’t want to sit at a desk all day + OT. My lower spine says; “screw you, lady!” There is the rub. Well, that and Tennessee!

Judging from what my self employed friends say, self employment is a taxation nightmare – but I don’t care. I am looking into every way possible of getting off this merry-go-round. This has involved a lot of consideration of what function social media has played for me, how I transition that, what other kind of sacrifices I might have to make, and so on. Why now? I ask myself that. All I can answer is that I have finally gotten desperate enough. I’m turning 42 this year, I have goals I would like to reach, I have people and places I would like to visit and interview in order to highlight on my blog – something has gotta give.

I have just started getting into some affiliate marketing things, listened to every Tom Woods podcast there is on entrepreneurs and the like, and various other things of that nature. In the meantime, I am playing catch up, my free time is dwindling, the chiropractor should just move in, and I need a personal trainer (hellooo accountability)!

By some miracle of God – I totally believe it is – I at least feel very optimistic. Maybe not every second of the day, but enough to get by. Of course, there are those moments when I feel like I am climbing up a rock wall without a harness – don’t look down!

So I guess; anything can happen. A year ago I was in Spokane, feeling like it just wasn’t home anymore, wondering what might be next, or if I was stuck. Optimism was more fleeting. Today, here I sit in my Nashville townhouse, with my roommate’s chocolate lab trying to lick me to death, writing this blog post while I think about how much I can accomplish this week – even though it will be hard. It’s so different, in so many ways. I would be amiss not to mention the crazy amount of prayer that has gone into my decision making process. But here I am, climbing the hill. Who knows what might be on the other side, eh? ūüėČ

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness

Peterson

I have often considered the differences in telling people a hard truth, vs. telling them a comfy lie, or just not confronting anything at all. I truly believe that we do people a disservice by not telling hard truths – obviously time, place, and relationship all have to do with how this plays out – however, by not doing so we are taking it into our own hands, whether or not that person should have the opportunity to grow by tackling difficulty. By telling the truth, we at least give them a choice in how they are going to respond. Our culture at large is so obsessed with “sensitivity,” and “trigger warnings,” etc., that we are attempting to over-protect people to death. This is simply not representative of the state of nature and the real world. We are reducing these people into beasts who need someone to rule over them. Many of us know that ends badly – not in a pillow laden room with puppies.

I am eternally grateful for people in my life who have told me true words that I needed – but at times didn’t want – to hear. I have had to make a lot of hard choices – especially in my younger years – to break free of mindsets passed on to me, and to change bad habits. I am not perfect by any means, but I can look myself in the mirror in large part because of the things I chose to face. The battles I have won have given me a self respect that cannot be taken away, and as I continue to struggle, I only gain more.

This, I believe, is one reason why Jordan Peterson has such a following. People want to be told to do hard things, not because they like being bossed around, but because it is an acknowledgment that they can do it. What the over-protectors see as criticism that makes them want to create a safe space, is, in fact, the word of encouragement that so many are looking for. Yes, life is hard. Yes, you are a bit of a mess. Yes, this is probably going to hurt like hell, but YOU CAN DO IT. Oh! How liberating is that! Rather than wasting years of my life in hiding, I can actually confront my fears and overcome what holds me back.

On the broader spectrum of society and its ills, it is time to wake up and smell the rotten cabbage. Peterson calls out a lot of very concerning things, which is what really rocketed him more into the public eye over the last eighteen months or so. He isn’t wrong. The above sentiments are everywhere, and they are not producing a brave, hard working group of future citizenry. Funny how we are told that it’s all about “equality” and leveling out the playing field. No way it is. Any thinking person who really considers the situation, should be able to see that we are creating an easily subdued and subservient populace, which will only tend to give more power to the few, since the former need to be led around by falsehoods… because they can’t face truth.

Why does Peterson stand out so much? I mean yes, he is brilliant, but clearly he is not the only one who thinks this way. Maybe his unapologetic bravery at defying popular opinion is more rare than I think. In any case, there are a ton of great videos out there, and he is worth checking out, if you haven’t done so.

 

Amen for the Truth Tellers

Several years ago I had the opportunity to meet Ben Swann at an event he spoke at in Idaho. I’m linking the wiki page on him, because his career is incredibly noteworthy, though I am both amused and annoyed at their portrayal of him as a conspiracy theorist – simply because he questions official narratives. But, isn’t it actually amazing to have independent reporters that are not tooting the horn of mass media (Don’t look behind the curtain)! I am a huge fan of this guy, and I have been since he came on the radar of many friends and I back in 2012. This was when his segment;¬†Reality Check, started questioning some of the shady goings on at county Republican conventions across the country, and doing honest reporting on the¬†Ron Paul Campaign. Many believe that this was the time in Ben’s personal journal where he began to ‘go down the rabbit hole,’ as it were.

Ben branched out on his own, through the help of crowd sourcing, with a project called Truth in Media. Then, for a year, he disappeared. There was various speculation about what had happened to him, and what forces may have come against him to shut up his search for truth. Fortunately for all of us who value journalistic integrity, Dash crypto currency came along as a financial backer for Truth in Media, so that Ben could return to his great investigative journalism without the pressure of connected people trying to end his career.

Okay, so most of the people who have thus far read this blog, already know this story. They are, generally speaking, folks who have listened to Ben Swann. Other friends of mine, however, and many random people this blog will (hopefully, eventually) reach, might not have ever heard of Ben before. And, I think Ben is a guy worth knowing about, and listening to. He put a lot on the line to do some of the investigative pieces he has done while working with local affiliates.

I don’t remember a lot of Ben’s speech from the dinner I attended in Idaho, because that was more than five years ago. But, I do remember that he mentioned a rather well known verse from the book of Esther;

“For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” Esther 4:14 (NKJV)

This reminds me that life is going to happen, no matter what choices we make. Pain and suffering come to us all, but will we rise above that and do something that could potentially save/help/enlighten others. I think Ben stuck to the point that you never really know but that you may have been put here for a reason. In fairness, it seems to me that he has made sacrifices in order to bring the truth to others – and that he continues to do so. He could have chosen to stay happy with his local affiliate, and cave to the pressure put upon him. But, (and this is what encourages me) he didn’t. And that, my friends, is worth a shout-out, a highlight, a thank you. Thanks for speaking the truth, Ben Swann.

 

Exploring the Power of Community

Last year for a period of time I was thinking quite a lot about Detroit, and some of the possibilities I imagined could be there for a group of dedicated people who could afford to invest. So, I thought it was really interesting – and fantastic – to read about Cooperative Capital, who have a vision for just that sort of thing. It isn’t exactly the way I imagined it, but nevertheless seems to be a potentially great way to do some rebuilding there. Essentially, people would be able to invest a small amount of money, vote on where the collective investment is allocated, and hopefully make a return (Yay for returns!).

It seems to me, an ideal expression of community, when a group of individuals can come together, despite their differences, to accomplish something great. We don’t always have to agree on politics, or believe all of the same stuff, to collaborate on things that are beneficial to us, and our communities. There is a great article at Fast Company, that goes into more detail on how this particular venture works.

I am always amazed by the brilliant things the market comes up with – and no need for the government. Rather, government is so often just a stumbling block to what might be, with all of it’s red tape and bureaucracy. It is so much of the reason for Detroit’s woes in the first place. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and where else the idea might pop up. Really it has some similarities to things like community gardens; although probably less profit potential in such cases. Nevertheless, the community is strengthened, and because people have invested they take more pride and ownership.

I’d love to see this branch into some of the privatized security that I have read/heard about, which has had some terrific success. More on that in a later post!

There are such great ideas out there, and one of my goals is to highlight some in the weeks to come. I hope this brings hope to other people, the way it does for me! Also, I can always use more brilliant ideas for my own life, where I might want to invest, and how I can live out this thing called freedom in a way that inspires others and makes them want to do the same.

 

The Quiet Witness of Following Your Convictions

I’ve been in Tennessee for five months now. I came from Washington state before that, and one thing they do not have yet in eastern Washington, is Chick-fil-A. And let me just say, I am a big fan.

I work right next to a mall. Recently I had a long lunch break while working on a Sunday, so I decided to walk to the food court, where there happens to be a Chick-fil-A. Now, loving them as I do, I have of course had those Sunday cravings, where it is like my body just wants to have that thing it knows it can’t get. Because, of course, due to their Christian convictions, Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays. Momentary frustration! But somehow, seeing the closed building is so much different than seeing the closed store in the food court.

There I am, standing in the food court, plenty of bustle all around me – and there is the solo dark counter-front of the Chick-fil-A. In the mall, this stands out. You can’t not notice it. And it isn’t because it is doing anything. Nope. It’s just sitting there. Dark and silent. This really struck me that day. I kind of just stood there and pathetically stared at it for a moment, impressed by the convictions that caused it to be so. Of course, there are other days where Chick-fil-A is having a media frenzy, or coming out to feed people stranded in the Atlanta airport…but this is the thing they do every week. They just take a day off. Isn’t it crazy how just taking a day off can stand out so much in our culture?

I wondered how many people have thought to themselves; “why the heck isn’t Chick-fil-A open?!” I’m sure they have, because not everyone is informed about these things. And maybe if people ask that question and get an answer, it will lead to another question. It made me thoughtful, so I have to assume it has done the same for others. It seems like such a small thing, doesn’t it? I bet it’s not as small to the people that work for Chick-fil-A. I’m glad that – at this point in time – businesses still have the right to follow some of their convictions.

I wonder how many things there are in my own life – maybe just things I choose not to participate in – that have an effect on the people around me. I don’t really try to figure that out, I just try to be better about following my convictions, and I hope that I can embolden other people to follow theirs. I know too many people who have lost their voice – and they have important things to say. How about you?

“be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9 (NRSV)

 

The Question I Ask Myself

Franklin

A  series of Facebook comments brought this to mind again today;

What is it that makes us stop asking questions? Is it beaten out of us as children? “BECAUSE I SAID SO” only works until we grow up – right?

Many people chose to vote for one of two candidates in the last election, and whether their person won or not, they seem to not ask questions of that person now – if they ever did. The diehard Hillary people still think she’s #1, and the Trump folks still believe he’s “draining the swamp!” But, there seem to be a lot of issues with both. Are they afraid of being seen as having been wrong? This is the question I ask myself;

Why is it perceived as not okay to question our leaders, especially people that we support or have supported?

This is true in so many areas of life, and not just Federal politics. You can see the very same thing happening in the dialogue about abuse in law enforcement. Most people think you have to be either for or against the police. There is no other way to look at it, no objectivity. Do we agree with every single thing our siblings think or do, or our friends and spouses? Generally, not. So why do we think we have to go in with authority figures, hook, line, and sinker? Why do we think we can’t call them out?

I always wonder how much of this is the fault of the modern church. Remember, not too long ago a majority of Americans attended on Sunday. It seems that for a very long time we have been teaching people to submit to all authority, come what may. This is a form idolatry, in my opinion. I was initially taught Romans 13 just like most other people as simply; “submit to authority.” No caveat. No mention of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I am not by any means a scholar of church history, but I think most knowledgeable people have some understanding of past grievances in the Catholic church, stemming far beyond the modern day abuse scandals. Not that this is unique to the Catholic church, it is just easy to pick on them. It must have been simple to get medieval peasants to pay for blessings, and free tickets to heaven, when they had no clue what the good book actually said. We can look back on history and think; man, those people were easily mislead. But, we have the benefit of knowledge that they didn’t have. We can read the book. And in regard to the not so distant abuse issues… aren’t we looking at the same thing? What’s our excuse?! We trust the clergy – whatever our brand of faith. We do this to a fault. They are supposed to be somehow more “enlightened” than we are. It’s like we are giving over our own salvation into the hands of men rather than the hands of God. So, when someone alleges abuse; GASP! We just can’t believe that is true – don’t let anyone see!

We do the very same thing with government. It’s like we are giving our own liberty over into the hands of a president, rather than keeping it in the hands of the people. In both cases we are shirking our responsibility, and failing to protect others.

Some folks have a gift of teaching. Others make excellent leaders, it’s true. But what should true leadership look like? And do we believe everything we’re taught? People in authority should always be questioned. That doesn’t have to be done in a rude, hateful, or disrespectful way. The truth is, however, that power corrupts. We all know this to be true. So, why do we think it will all go perfectly, once our person gets elected, appointed, or rises to a place of power over others? I don’t have power over anybody, and sometimes I still need my friends to tell me like it is. Don’t you? We really need to stop acting like this isn’t the case for whoever our gilded heroes are. This has led us to a very, very bad and precarious place. In fact, Trump isn’t right most of the time, (neither was Obama), and neither would any other glorious leader be in his position.

“Where there is no counsel the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors, there is safety.” ~Proverbs 11:14 (NKJV)

A Great Awakening

Once again it has been so long that I don’t even know what I am doing here. I have been meaning to get back into the groove for awhile now, but I have had some important things to sort out first.

Today I will try to keep it short and sweet.

I was pondering this thought earlier (thank you, Bill Johnson, for sparking it), that we enslave ourselves out of fear. We’re afraid our kids will crack their heads open on the playground, so we put in that rubber bark stuff, and take out the metal monkey bars. We’re afraid they’ll be abducted by strangers, so we don’t let them walk home from school alone, and we teach them early to be afraid, rather than to be fearless.

How many laws have been pushed out of fear? Not considering the potential long term consequences, the unknown impact? Politicians and the media play upon our fear, and we let them.

In contrast, the word of God says that “perfect love casts out fear.” I remember having a conversation with a much valued friend, who is not a believer, and we were talking about those who fought in the war for independence. He made a comment regarding the Christians at that time, that they fought because it didn’t matter if they died. They believed so strongly that they would be joining a glorious hereafter, that they may as well fight to make the world they lived in more free. The cost was more than worth it. My friend had great respect for those men, certainly more than he has for modern day Christians.

What would it look like if we lived lives devoid of fear? What if death couldn’t scare us?

No disrespect to the lovely atheists I know in the liberty movement (whatever that is these days), but I honestly feel that there is no rallying cry for freedom without a true understanding of it, which I believe will only come to a larger number of people through some kind of great awakening. Over the past few years I have been reminded over and over, through various circumstances, that Jesus is still the answer to all the questions. Knowing the God who made us, simply changes everything. And yes, I know there are plenty of Christians out there who disagree with me on things, but I would ask them as well as myself on the regular; which voices are you really listening to?

Freedom is scary, but always worth it.

Thoughts on Harney County

Harney_County,_Oregon,_sign
Photo by By Ken Lund

Recently I drove to Burns, Oregon, a place many people are now familiar with, due to the recent stand-off between activists and the FBI at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Assuming that anyone reading this is in the know, and were attracted by the “Harney County” in the title, let me share some brief thoughts…

I drove the 7 hours to Burns because my friend Mike (Tenth Amendment Center) was speaking there. When the Hammonds were arrested, again, and the Refuge was first occupied, friends of the Hammonds and other members of the community, wondered what the right answers were to this conflict, what their rights were, and what they could potentially do about federal encroachment. Many of them felt at a loss. So, someone began doing their research and found KrisAnne Hall, (who is a feisty ball of constitutional terrific-ness). She was the first in an ongoing string of speakers and teachers, which, has also included the The Center for Self Governance and last Monday, Mike Maharrey.

We all watched the media paint the folks in the refuge as a bunch of crazed militants. I generally have my doubts about the integrity of the media at large, and this was no exception. I was looking forward to talking to some locals for myself, and hearing their take on the whole situation. A friend made a good point earlier this week, when he reminded me that we, as a society, have gotten further and further away from our agrarian roots, and therefore it’s hard for a lot of people to relate to some ranchers “out west.” It makes sense. I grew up riding my grandmother’s horses, and I love the smell of hay and earth. My great grandparents had cattle that we moo-ed at while swinging on the gate. I think of ranchers as the salt of the earth. I know a lot of people never had those experiences in the first place, and I can feel even my own disconnection now.

I liked the people I met in Burns. People told us that they had visited the refuge when everything started. They hung out with the occupiers¬† and never felt threatened by them. Of course that isn’t to say that every person in town agreed with what they were doing – or how they went about it.¬† People told us stories, like how Harney County used to have a thriving GDP, back when the sawmills were still open and the country ranches thrived, and that whether or not you agree with the way this group brought attention to the situation, the truth is, that these ranchers have been being bought out and pushed off their lands for years. The Bureau of Land Management still owns 3 million acres in Harney County alone, 62% of county land. Constitutionally speaking, most of this land should have been disposed of (sold or given to Oregonians) by the Federal Government, when Oregon became a state, as they are only supposed to hold lands for enumerated purposes.

My biggest take away was really just a reminder, that we need to do our research on why things are happening, and not just absorb the mainstream narrative. On all issues. Also, we have to find good ways to communicate that. I know I’ve shared background links on Facebook, though perhaps not many people read them. It’s also true, there is vitriol from some who agree with the occupiers and some who don’t. Let’s face it,¬†every¬†group has some kooks and hotheads. My disappointment is that the entire narrative here revolved around the occupiers being armed. I don’t condemn the occupiers, as they were within their rights to be armed. I’m a 2nd amendment proponent. I get why they were. I just find it unfortunate that it stopped a bunch of people from relating to them, and really understanding what they were fighting for. Of course, I guess you could argue that that’s the issue which really got the media’s attention ( it figures), and is actually the reason this conversation has gained traction.

Mike encouraged the Harney County folks to tell their individual stories. I hope they, and many others, choose to do so.

You can read Mike’s terrific and much more informative blog post here; Refusal to Cooperate: The Moderate Middle Ground Between Revolution and Unlimited Submission.

A Place For Everyone

puzzle

‚ÄúNo one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.‚ÄĚ
~ Charles Dickens

It’s been awhile now, but there were a number of years where I blogged anonymously,¬† just because I felt the need to do so.¬† I wasn’t ready to share all of my questions, doubts, and contrary opinions with the people I cared about.¬† Also, I struggled for a long time with wanting to make the stuff I wrote seem more academic. I am no good at that. I’ve had so many brilliant friends who do that well. It didn’t occur to me for awhile that maybe something else was needed.

It’s easy to get into a circle of great people with similar ideas and momentarily forget that you are still very diverse.¬† Clearly there are important things that bind us together, but we still reach and interact with others in different ways. We are unique.

I’m saying that to remind us that even among the people we like best, we have many different gifts and insights to bring to the table. Now expand that to all of the people we don’t know, and even the ones we currently don’t like. Just because we don’t see eye to eye with them, doesn’t mean they don’t have a part to play. Just because we think they are focusing on ridiculous things, doesn’t mean they may not end up bringing some well needed insight. You can focus all of your time and attention on the paint job and detailing of your car, but if you don’t have an experienced mechanic to fix what’s under the hood, all you have is a pretty thing that doesn’t go anywhere.

Liberty lovers, I am talking to you. If we truly want to expand the ideas of liberty, we have to engage with people in a different way than what we see all over social media. We need to stand out. Maybe less doom and gloom. It is true, there are some really difficult people out there, and you might be thinking; they are never going to see reason. However, I’d like to remind you that many of us were there once. Maybe if we were a bit more encouraging to people, they would be drawn to the sound of our voices.¬† There is a way for us to challenge while still showing respect. We should be thankful for the dialog – for the people who bother to engage, even if they are obnoxious. Who knows what might bring them around, and what great assets they might become.

I think we have all been in a new work situation where someone either showed kindness and respect to us, or was incredibly condescending and rude. That immediately has an effect on how we see that place of business and our role there. So how do we want to be perceived? This is something we all have to decide for ourselves. I have learned to embrace my role as the non-academic and pour more energy into things that I am naturally good at, like editing and being an encourager. I know my hard working friends just need a pep talk sometimes Рand I can do that, no matter how I am feeling. My gifts feed the community.  After all, is liberty just about us, or is it about ALL of us?

 

Action Speaks Louder Than Words

birds

In my last couple of blog entries, I mentioned, or at least alluded to the power and/or responsibility of the individual. I think a lot about that these days, and about what might be asked of me.

Of late I’ve re-evaluated decisions I’ve made over the past few months.¬† A couple of things stood out. Oh, they would probably be considered really small to anyone else, but they impacted me because those were the times when I chose to disregard the quiet voice of my conscience. And, there were consequences, even if no one felt them but me.

Being a person of faith, I directly equate that little voice with the divine. Regardless of what you believe, however, we all have that voice inside, and sometimes it is just a whisper.¬† Following it sometimes means not doing something I want in the moment, or, potentially having to do something I find uncomfortable. In any case, let’s face it, we all give it the cold shoulder sometimes. On the aforementioned occasions, that is just what I did. I’ve been here before, of course, and I’ve learned that once I ignore my conscience, it becomes easier to do it every time thereafter, until sometimes, in certain areas, I have completely blocked it out.

I’ve been asking myself how this might affect me in the long run, when it comes to the really tough decisions.

Last week there was this interview with retired army General Wesley Clark, in which he showed support for internment camps for radicalized¬†Americans. This certainly isn’t the first time the topic has arisen of late, the way having been paved by the 2012 NDAA. Increasingly, those who fail to follow the mainstream, supporters of limited government, Constitutionalists, among others, are being labeled as radical. So you have to ask yourself, who is going to decide what radicalized means, exactly?

This is only an example of what I’m talking about, but I know a lot of people who fall under these categories. So what happens when the government comes nosing around about people – even ones I don’t like? Do I keep writing when writing gets you in trouble? Or, with the increasing problem of police brutality, what happens if I witness something? Will I stand there? Would I put myself on the line? It’s easy to say yes, not having faced such things. But, have I conditioned myself to only do the things that I don’t find uncomfortable? Or, Have I conditioned myself to do what is right, even the little things, regardless of personal cost.

I try to remind myself that the things I do when no one is looking, matter. Not because I care what most people think, but because I am always conditioning my own self to be something. The question is what? Who do I want to be, and how do I make that a reality, rather than just words on a page? Words may have power, but actions are where the rubber meets the road.