"Free, White and Twenty One..."
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An Ozark E-Zine

This prejudicial and bigoted inflection was bandied about quite often during my youth. Most frequently, and you may be surprised to learn this, the speaker of the phrase was my mom. A valiant, dignified and self-assertive woman, there was no seed of superior nastiness in her remark. It was, when she said it, simply an assertion of her right to be however she wanted to be in her own moment of time. That is, she would have applauded any person of any race or creed who asserted their own unique "Free, _____ and Twenty One" liberty.

I think of my mom at this time of year perhaps more than at any other. The 4th of July Holiday during the summer of '61 was when my mom became a widow; when I lost my dad. I look back now, being past the age she was when she had to handle this, my own youngest child being now the age I then was, me being a single-parent now, and I wonder how she got through it. I wonder how she survived.

Of course times were different then. And, she was the single-parent of an only child. And both of her parents (my grandma and grandpa) lived in our multi-generational home.

I, on the other hand, have five living children, four of who reside here with me. Also, I am divorced and *must* work to generate an income whereas my mom, the beneficiary of a considerable widow's dowry, did not.

Still, all these things considered there is some greater difference -- not between she and I or her circumstances and mine (albeit, those exist), but a palpable distinction from then to now in the flavor of our whole society. Something that makes it "harder" to be "a person" now than it was then.

Even though "then" was far from perfect in way too many ways, still I was a child of privilege. Our family lived the Great American Dream. And my vision, as I grew to maturity, was (and continues to be) for ALL peoples of the entire world to experience this sense of "Free, _______ and Twenty One" liberty that was common amongst American white folks when I was young.

Not only has that NOT happened over the decades since then, but factually, looking around at the society I see now, I believe I know what it must feel to be an Iraqi woman who has lived in downtown Baghdad for fifteen years. Life under the old regime may have been greatly less than perfect, but life now is pure hell. Except of course that this transition for my Arab sister has come in a literal heartbeat whereas as mine/ours has crept up on us, unfolding over the years. Essentially, this makes the force of the undertow now gripping us all the more deadly.

Still there is cause to take heart for all of us neighbors, everywhere. People... common people, average people, regular folks (of multi-hued minds) are taking this subject of self-determined liberty (including the imbued right to worship or not worship at the altar of their choosing) very seriously. For one example of this, take a look at The World Tribunal on Iraq which is -- contrary to the LACK of media attention being given to this global "we the people" gathering (because we are all so consumed with Michael Jackson, et al) -- taking place right NOW!!!

My report on marijuana/hemp first went online soon after Gozarks debut (April 19, 2000) and to date no person, entity or organization has challenged any assertion made therein. Now, as realization of the validity of this compiled information (which has been around literally for centuries) is at long last dawning like a brilliant sunrise in the minds of many who had albeit perhaps in innocence and with only the very best of intentions at heart been errantly led astray by an ill-motivated propaganda machine called "the war on drugs," there is (some would say) reason to rejoice.

The "first-ever" federal legislation, titled the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, is slated for introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives this month. This Act would bring federal law into agreement with the consensus among five U.S. states and more than 30 countries, that industrial hemp, defined as cannabis with 0.3% THC, is distinct from marijuana.

At the same time, just today (June 15, 2005), the U.S. House of Representatives voted down an amendment prohibiting the federal government from undermining state medical marijuana laws. Ultimately rejected with 264 votes against, proponents of the legislation sung praises because the repeat performance of this proposal received 13 more votes than last year.

Personally, given the abysmal state of world affairs (yes, I know, in some places things are super-wonderful, but "some places" is just not good enough), I find it appalling that so much public time and energy has been (imho) wasted over the non-resolution of this simple issue. I find it devastating to believe that there are so few people who have a clear grasp of the facts or a modicum of common sense and so many people who are driven by fear and wanton lust for control over the private lives of others. 

The only known solution to this quagmire of ignorance and apathy is for folks with brains to get involved. Do something. Take a stand. Commit an action. As I have said before, our national regulatory policies on marijuana/hemp are a cornerstone issue, the effects of which reach far into the social fabric in ways that decay (or enhance) the quality of ALL of our lives.


Greers Ferry Hoop-la
They had a neighborly little shindig in neighboring Greers Ferry today (Saturday, June 11), the highlight of which for two of my kids was the peddle-tractor pulls... [NOTE: If you are on a dial-up landline, it may take 20 minutes for the following two video clips to load. If you enjoy watching kids having fun, however, it is worth the wait...]

PS: Did I mention that they both won in their respective divisions...? Shawna (see score board at right) stunned everyone, including the sponsors of the event, who had (and I quote) "Never seen a girl win against boys in this race before!" In her second run, with the sled loaded with 200 pounds, she out-pulled ALL of the boys. Her comment: "Girls do everything better."

The conversation continues...
The conversation on the activism list I've mentioned previously remains intriguing. For example, what follows are some marvelous thoughts from one of the contributors about the tenets of "we the people" democracy (my remarks in italics):

So let me ask, what is wrong with children having a voice in family decisions? Especially those decisions which have a direct influence on the quality of the child's life?

Isn't this the way that all families (real democracy and all true friendships) are supposed to work? It's not supposed to be majority or minority "rule." It's supposed to be everybody having a voice, reasoning things out together, and arriving at some sort of common ground.

What you said last is best-- a process of consultation, that arrives at unified agreement.

If consensus can't be reached, and decision is required, the children have a voice in the consultation prior to decision-making, but not in the decision itself.
The outcome of the action on the decision is the adults' responsibility.

How do we fix what's wrong?  We all seem to know that something is broken. So what do we do about it? How do we model our own behavior in order for the world around us to reflect a desirable result?

I'm suggesting a radically different view of the nature of what's "wrong", hence what needs doing.  Something is lacking.  The problem isn't that it's broken, it's missing.  So, there's nothing to "fix"-- but there *is* something to create.  It has at least two parts.

One part of what's lacking is real character in our elected officials, and consequently in the people they appoint to non-elective positions.  That is not however "all their fault"; it's our fault too.  Citizens who were actually good at being citizens would never have elected such people.

We have subordinated politics to sales and marketing. Slogans, brand name loyalty, and product packaging are sales techniques, aimed at  consumers.  Spending a vote instead of a dollar is not citizenship.  It's just one more form of consumerism, which is the backside of the coin called capitalism, by the way. 

The necessary form of education, however, doesn't exist.  We teach character as if it's an accessory that comes with a belief system-- but promoting a belief system as the way to good character is a sales pitch, not an education. 

The other part of what's missing-- and not just in this country-- is that we've outgrown our nationalist systems, worldwide. Our systems are based on an assumption that there's an "us" and a bunch of "them's" in the world, within our countries and internationally alike.  Our own system of "checks and balances", for instance, essential as it is, ultimately institutionalizes division, not unity.  Or, look at Congress, which runs on debate and compromise between factions called "parties". 

We have developed a worldwide technological infrastructure, however, such that the entire planet is now "us".  Ironically however, this has come about coincident with a loss of our sense of national unity.  Lacking a confident sense of our togetherness as citizens of a united nation, we seek solidarity in our divisions, in our political parties and other internal splinter groups. Uniting nations, plural, is a dream lost in chaos, far beyond belief.  Instead we watch as our elected representatives put factional loyalties before national interest -- and more often than not cheer for our favorites to do more of the same.  "My candidate can beat your candidate". . . substitute "Dad" in there and ask yourself the mental age of the speaker.

The solutions lie in (a) growing up ourselves, and (b) creating the institutions that reflect that greater maturity.  We're back to one of the things you said about the family; what's called for is consultation.  Not debate, consultation.  As our congress so plainly shows us, debate only leads to compromise, and compromise is less than, therefore does not equal, cooperation. 

I don't have the detailed solution.  I'm not us all by myself.  I therefore and thereby cannot and do not possibly have all the answers.

Alan James

Wishing for each of us only and exactly what we have earned and deserve, and hoping this proves to be something we richly enjoy.

Christine Weiss

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

Drug Policy
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The Green Party of Arkansas


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