This article was originally posted on March 11th, 2009 at americanchronicle.com
I had the good fortune to be able to spend the weekend of March 5th – March 8th of 2009 attending the Liberty Forum in Nashua, New Hampshire which was put on by The Free State Project. To say I was energized and excited by the happenings there would be an understatement. Words can not begin to describe the feelings I had as the weekend progressed. I felt welcomed, accepted and embraced by all those in attendance. Never before in my life have I experienced so many people that felt the same way about freedom as I do all gathered together in the same place.
I drove from the Chicago area to Nashua to attend this event. The total drive time was a little over 17 hours one way. I would have flown, but I didn´t want to put up with the TSA and all their dictates. Sorry, but I want to be able to keep my shoes on and drink bottled water when I travel. I could have taken a train, but I didn´t. I wanted to drive. It had been a long time since I´ve taken a road trip. The forum made it worth the trip.
I could talk about the liberty luminaries that gave their speeches. I could talk about how great it was to hear these personalities in person. I could talk about the individual speeches by people like Adam Kokesh from Iraq Veterans Against the War and how great and emotional his presentation was. I could talk about how awed I was to be in the presence of Mary Ruwart (one of my personal heroes) and how exciting it was to be able to speak to her one on one even if it was just for ten minutes. I could talk about how inspiring it was to listen to Will Buchanan tell of his adventures on his Walk for Liberty across America and to discuss freedom with him and his lovely wife Brooke at a round table luncheon.
There are many things about the speakers I could mention. I could talk about how interesting and educating it was to hear Glenn Jacobs from the WWE give a speech on the economy. Glenn Jacobs is a huge man and a powerful presence, but to me it was his intelligence that was the most impressive thing about him. I could mention how entertaining it was to hear John Taylor Gatto speak about education despite his age and the fact that he can´t be as animated as I´m sure he was in the past. I could talk about how fun it was to watch Stefan Molyneux instruct a roomful of libertarian minded people on how to win any political debate in two minutes or less.
I could talk about these things and I guess I just did a little, but I won´t go into any more details because, although these luminaries and their presentations gave this gathering substance and form, it was not they who made the forum so exciting for me to attend. Although these famous and inspiring people gave presentations worthy of the standing ovations they received and never seemed to have enough time to answer all the questions audience members wanted to pose, it was not they who impressed me the most. It was, in fact, the legions of ordinary people who had gathered together in one place to listen to these people who delighted me. It was they who created the positive and exciting atmosphere which permeated the hotel. It is they who make the Free State Project the beacon of hope that it has become in the liberty movement.
One of the first things one notices about this movement is the diversity of those involved. People from all backgrounds, cultures, races and religions attended. That is a testament to the power of freedom. It appeals to most everyone regardless of their upbringing or social status. The other thing I noticed is how friendly everyone was. There was no prejudicial judging going on in this group. There was a tendency I found to introduce one´s self and then to begin conversing with one another as if you´ve known each other for years. The non initiation of aggression principle and the idea that in order to live in liberty you must grant that liberty to all others is ingrained in our psyches, for the most part. That connection alone is a powerful catalyst for tolerance and friendliness in our interactions. Those ideals were personified by just about everyone at the forum.
It is these individuals who make society work. It is they who provide the labor, the products and the services that make day to day living in the modern world possible. The people attending were the teachers, the technicians, the software programmers, the mechanics, the entrepreneurs, the businessmen, the doctors, the clerical workers, etc. who want to see government reduced in size and scope. These are professionals and laborers from a variety of industries, both private and public, who are tired of the overbearing, intrusive nature of our government and simply want back the ability to be able to make decisions for their selves and their businesses and succeed or fail based on their own merits. They came to the forum to get ideas on how to achieve liberty in our lifetime and discuss those same ideas. It was these discussions we had amongst ourselves that made the liberty forum such an exciting place to be.
By the end of the Liberty Forum my head was so full of new information and ideas that it was spinning. I don´t know if it would have been possible to squeeze anymore nuggets into my skull, and yet I didn´t want the weekend to end. I had found a time and a place I would have liked to have stretched into eternity had it been in my power. I now have more hope than ever before that ordinary folks can create the change necessary to return our society back into the type of freedom loving, independent thinking society our founders must have imagined. The ordinary people attending this forum gave me more hope than any politician possibly could. They are the promise of real change, lasting change, change from the bottom up. For me, this is what made the Liberty Forum a rousing success.