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Growing Carrots for Freedom and for America

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Carrots can fight back. I remember when my youngest daughter, Ayn pulled out one carrot and it suddenly let go after resisting. Plump, she went right on her bottom, looking surprised. Then she started to laugh, still holding on to that carrot. Then she ate it. It was a long time ago.

Back then I tried to grow all of our food because I knew it was much healthier. Also cheaper. That meant time in the garden with the kids. Those were good times that still make me smile. Such are the moments you treasure, along with the luminescent expression on a child's face when they figure something out. Like how to tie their shoe or get the kite up by themselves. What we remember through a glaze of tears are the things that last.

I can remember when I was little myself. Sitting in the backyard of our house on Colby Avenue in West Los Angeles I would listen with fascination to Mr. Bell, my friend Alan's grandpa, from across the street, tell me about what it was like to be a Pony Express Rider. He remembered the sound of the wind, the feel of his horse, sweating as the sun fried his face even under his hat. He told me the elation he felt when he arrived yet again unscathed. Listening still connects me to him and to the history of the country I love.

Most of us today are hungry for that sense of connection and for more things in our lives that are worth remembering; the things you take with you no matter what else happens. The good news is that we can have them. The bad news, if it is bad, is that we will have to give up on piles of things that we don't remember and on working hard to have nothing much worth the effort.

We need to give up on the idea of being a world power, having our children go off to die in wars that are about corporate profits. And, finally, we need to remember the vision that is still the America we love. That vision drew millions to the promise of what could be when a people were free to live their lives for themselves, in community with others. Close you eyes and see how it was for them. It was never about wealth, it was about hope, security, watching your children grow up strong and free. It was about realizing the best in yourself and showing respect for others. It was and is about community; looking into the eyes of people and finding those connections that last a life time. It is about doing the right thing because you know it matters. Each of these involves a choice. Each of those choices take us back to the freedom that makes human relationships work. When you choose right everything else falls into place.

America is the place where freedom was first recognized as an inherent part of our nature; a gift of God existing before government. Then it was understood that government had no rights, being a simple organizing tool to be changed at our will. That was the real Revolution, the change of ideas. We need to remember that truth.

When you stand on a firm foundation of values, honesty, integrity, community, you do not need to be afraid. Today we are just that, afraid. In this America we have learned to fear things that would have astonished our parents.

Today we worry when we see a police car; we worry about the steady increase of executive orders that ignore the Constitution. We see the direction of an administration that does not even bother to pretend it is acting within the law. We stand at risk, the stark reality of a police state staring us in the face. Shaking out heads we wonder how we arrived at this insanity.

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Melinda Pillsbury-Foster is the author of GREED: The NeoConning of America and A Tour of Old Yosemite. The former is a novel about the lives of the NeoCons with a strong autobiographical component. The latter is a non-fiction book about her father (more...)
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