With Liberty & Justice For All...
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So here it is... time for the "big event." That is, the 2nd annual Liberty & Justice Festival being held near Leslie all day on Saturday, May 1st. And I've done a fairly abysmal job of hounding y'all about this as I promised, two weeks ago, that I would. But hey... What can I say?

I don't like ragging on people... especially when I believe that what I'm stumping for is something that everybody ought to be able to figure out for themselves. But then that "mothering instinct" comes over me and I get this incessant craving to urge folks I care about to do things I sincerely believe will prove to be useful, beneficial, and valuable to them.

Yet at the same time I recognize that the "eat your spinach, it's good for you" approach seldom really works. I mean you may get momentary acquiescence to the idea, but in the long haul -- unless an individual sees that there will be significant and tangible benefit to doing anything, it is unlikely that they will carry on the recommended practice of their own volition. That's just the way human nature works.

Still I feel the need to emphasize the importance of each one of us finding a way to get involved with our own democratic process. I feel an urgency to inspire all of us to devote some time to learning about and practicing the tenets of democracy that are articulated in the Constitution of the United States of America.

I feel the driving passion to shout from the highest steeple... "Hey!!! Fellow Americans!!! This is OUR nation. We are "the people." And it is time for us to start calling our leaders (and ourselves) accountable to our own Constitutional tune.

In this interest, I entreat you... come join us at the Liberty & Justice Festival on Saturday, May 1, 2004. If nothing else, you will have the "rain or shine" opportunity to meet and greet a passel of like-minded advocates, and maybe -- just in the simple act of making these friendly connections -- a profoundly magical and effervescently synergistic process will fill your life -- and everyone's -- with liberty & justice for all...

One Truck Mind...
A dear friend of mine, who also happens to be a client, says of himself that he has a "one truck mind." As he is, in addition to being a stellar human being in the fullest sense of the term, the developer of an outstanding business venture, I do my best to take heed of his ways.

Thus in this regard, for the next two weeks I am going to have something of a "one truck mind," at least in the vein of what this front page column will be about... and that is the Liberty & Justice Festival coming up May 1st, right here in the Ozarks.

And, why YOU should and must make it a point to come.

Let me count the ways....

But they are all summed up in one sentence: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

More succinctly put, we must do this because we can.

Because it is more than our "right" as citizens. It is our duty. It is "what we do" as Americans. It is what we (say) we are all about.


The unabridgable right of free men and free women to gather in public and openly discuss, debate and celebrate the tenets of liberty and justice. This is "how" we "perfect our union." It is "the way" we "promote the general welfare" of our nation and "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

And it is, like cleaning the gutters, something that we must willfully put some energy on attending to from time to time. Which should not be construed to mean that doing it must be a dismal, labor-intensive, drudgery-filled, uninspiring "job." I mean really, even actual gutter-cleaning doesn't have to be that bad a trip... so why on earth should anything else?

Which is the whole point of the Liberty & Justice Festival -- mixing serious business with conviviality. Getting down to earth, back to basics and at the same time moving forward to create a fresh new and awe inspiring "we the people" view of our co-creatively envisioned and collaboratively enacted "manifest destiny."

"We are the ones we've been waiting for... we have met the role models, and they are us!!!"

Let's just "do it!!!!" And while we're doing it, let's enjoy ourselves and have some fun, because if every heartbeat of life ain't worth livin' it sure ain't worth much of anything else.

First Fruits
The lady in the photo below is my friend Kate. The eggs on the table came from her chickens and, as we happen to live near the Post Office, and as Kate has to go there to pick up her mail once a week, we are blessed that along her route she stops with a neighborly delivery.

This last week in addition to those speckled brown, pale green and cream colored beauties sitting on the table in front of her, she brought us a couple of delicious lush dark green clusters of Tot Soy (don't know if I've got the spelling right, but it's something of that ilk)... and trust me, you just haven't lived until you tasted these first fruits of springtime, straight from Kate's lovingly cultivated farm/garden.

In tribute to Kate's goats (and her provisioning skill) we are sometimes tantalized with wonderful homemade cheese, often laced with wild chive garlic. Thanks Lady Kate... for being such a magnificent grower!!!

PS: If you happen to be reading this on the afternoon of Saturday, April 17, and your are anywhere close to Conway... come by the Hendrix campus for their Earth Day event... We'll be there, having a Gozarkian party at the Kucinich booth!!!

I do not know that there is an uglier word by virtue of definition in the whole of language.

Betrayal: To be false or disloyal, to breach confidence, to lead astray or deceive.

Betrayal is (imho) an abomination on the face of the Earth.

And while I know that probably all of us can make a legitimate claim to the fame of having been betrayed by someone, I wonder how many of us can certify ourselves as 100% loyal and true non-betrayers of every given trust? Especially when we measure ourselves alongside the standards we "say" we are "all about."

Of course this presupposes that we do, from time to time choose  to measure ourselves in context of something "bigger" than we are. And I wonder, really, how many of us actually do that.

Measure ourselves.

In context of something bigger than we are.

Do we?

I contemplate things like this as the emails roll through my Inbox, like this one that just came in:

The June 30th transfer of power from the U.S.- led Coalition Provisional Authority to an interim Iraqi government is a hoax intended to deceive the American people into believing that this nightmare of death and destruction is coming to an end.

At face value, I am somewhat inclined to agree with the above assertion. I understand, as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz allegedly commented to reporters last week, that:

There’s not going to be any difference in our military posture on July 1st from what it is on June 30th.

I am also inclined to agree, as Democratic Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich recently commented, that:

The only thing that is going to change is the level of violence aimed at our men and women in uniform. It will become even

And I know that as I click the keys that type the words which represent my thoughts to this page, the death toll in Iraq and on other bloody battlefields mounts.

Yet still I wonder, who is the perpetrator of the hoax? And yes, I know... the Democrats say it's the Republicans, the Greens say it's all the other political parties, the Libertarians say its "the government," the Independents don't really give a horses' butt about who's at fault because they're too busy indulging lives of meaningless comfort and the Progressives want it fixed but aren't actually interested to do anything beyond moan about the injustice of it. 

So I wanna know, who really is the betrayer?

Another incoming email reads:

The Burden of Conscience
Since the US invaded Iraq last year, hundreds of American soldiers have broken the law and abandoned their units on the battlefield... the GI Rights Hotline, a coalition of advocacy groups that offer legal advice to American troops, has received thousands of calls from active soldiers inquiring about conscientious objector status since the war began... Camilo Mejia, a 28-year-old Florida National Guard Staff Sergeant who refused to return to Iraq in October, after being home on furlough. Mejia has taken a public stand of conscience against what he calls an illegal and immoral war...

Despite this application, Mejia has been charged by the Army with desertion and is currently being held at Ft. Stewart in Georgia, where he is awaiting trial by a Special Court Martial, which will likely result in a one year prison sentence and a Bad Conduct Discharge.

Obviously, the officials of our U.S. Army believe that Sergeant Mejia is some type of betrayer. And I ask myself, can I agree with that verdict?

Or am I, perhaps like Mejia's mother, Maritza Castillo, more inclined to believe that the confidence this son entrusted to the moral certitude of patriotism was betrayed? 

Whereupon I am again forced to ask, who is the betrayer of the brave? And, perhaps more importantly, who has the courage to stem the tide of betrayal?

Another email, credited to George F. Smith and Strike-the-root.com, asks the poignant question:

Where's the Outrage?
The president of the country lies and no one seems to care... There is no outrage because this is what we expect from government. Budgets in the trillions, debt in the trillions upon trillions. Dead soldiers, a new Greenspan bubble in the works, rising consumer prices, declining value of the dollar -- it’s all part of politics, along with endless jokes, a complicit media, prevaricating politicians and the financial interests
that control them. But no one worries – the U.S. ship of state is too big to sink.

It’s hard to believe the country was once different – a lot different. For most of our history Americans paid no income tax; they had no central bank devaluing their money and robbing their savings; they had no overseas wars to die in because back then our
government minded its own business; they could ingest whatever they wanted because their bodies belonged to them; they were not forced to pay into a Ponzi scheme sold to them as a retirement fund. Taxes were low,
prosperity was real. Citizens of France admired America so much they raised money to give us the Statue of Liberty...

The government today seems like a machine that runs on its own. It taxes, inflates, carries on shooting wars overseas, and sinks billions into social black holes at home... Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. Our Founders
gave us some important lessons...

And with that last statement I wholeheartedly agree, however I would phrase it that our Nation's Founders learned some very brutal lessons for us, on our behalf. They did our homework for us, and they did it the hard way... But they weren't doing it for us, they were doing it for them. And they (as a group) were doing it entirely alone.

That is, they looked around at the circumstances that were culminating around them. Circumstances that were, in fact, world wide and socially accepted as The Norm.  And then they did something unthinkable. They measured the quality of their lot in life alongside what they envisioned as an ideal.

Thusly they laid their intellects at the alter of liberty and justice, and then set their wills to make the unattainable real. They turned their actions to changing things, and they gave their lives and their fortunes to the cause of making those changes real.

They acknowledged the inherently ineffable, that here in this nation we call the U.S. of A., We the People are by default the ones who must call the shots. We are where the buck stops and the deciding vote about what ANY government (including and most especially our own) may or may not do to us... as private citizens... each with the Creator Endowed and thus unalienable right to liberty and justice.

All of which brings me, in a highly convenient way, to the last item from my Inbox that I'll share with you today. It's my cc: of a note sent around by the guy who is doing the major part of the speaker and musician scheduling for the Liberty & Justice Festival that is coming up (rather quickly, in nearby Leslie) on Saturday, May 1st:

Some of you may wonder why you are receiving a message about something you already know all about. Some of you may think, "What's a 'liberty and justice festival'; sounds to me like another name fer a gun an' knife show!" Others of you wonder, "Who are all these people getting this email?" Many of you are asking yourselves, "Who the hell is Will Taylor, and where the heck is Leslie, anyway? (Hint on Leslie--wide spot in road on way to slightly wider spot called Mountain View. And even Will doesn't know who Will is.)

The Liberty and Justice Festival is an annual event, nurtured, birthed and coordinated by a consortium of individuals who agree that liberty is the reason for, not the result of, America, and that you don't need three academic degrees and a black robe to understand the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They don't agree about much else, except maybe that it sure is a lot of fun to eat, visit, laugh, hear good music and talk politics--or listen to others talk politics.

The LJF is the only rally in Arkansas that convenes solely to commemorate, celebrate and venerate the Constitution of the United States. And Leslie on Mayday is one of the prettiest places you can imagine for such a convention. Actually, this year the festival will not be in Leslie proper, but out on Highway 65, on the site of the glorious new second location of Serenity Bakery. Camping is permitted, lovely swimmable river water is at your feet, venders will be a'vending, carnival atmosphere should prevail...

Which seems like a fitting place to bring a conclusion to this little missive, and also a fine place to really think about who the betrayers are, and what We the People can and must do to end the terrorism of betrayal...


As always, I'm wishing all of us a life worth living, filled with all those things we prefer, desire, wholeheartedly celebrate and richly deserve to enjoy.

Christine Weiss

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Photo: Exterior of the Van Buren County Child Care Center building.