Greetings from the Chair - on this Independence Day

Good afternoon!

I thought I would take a minute or two to say hello from my chair and share a few thoughts about what freedom means to me.  

Those of you who know me know that I have poured years into working with kids, thousands of hours into empowering young minds and molding them to be exemplary individuals.  It's been a humbling endeavor.  

Early in my soccer coaching time, I learned a valuable lesson that is innately libertarian - are you ready for this?  It's simple. Just - Let kids play.  Start by giving them as few rules as possible, give them a task, and set them about solving it.  If, in the course of their problem solving, they develop an idea that shortcuts the objective in a negative way, give them an extra rule - a little nudge really - to shut down that idea.  When I stepped out of my coaching comfort zone of regimented drills and barked commands, and when I trusted my players to play this game with me, I was treated to a work of beauty.  Their creative little minds each found a new and unique way to get the job done!  Their individualism surfaced while they learned to play together as a team!  I recreated this same situation over and over again, in a variety of settings (many not on a soccer field), and it never once failed.  NEVER.  

This experience gave way to an idea that led me to take the process a step further.  Simply give them the tools of a game (a ball maybe, or a stick, or a balloon, or whatever I could reach out and grab), and tell them to go play.  Children who are accustomed to detailed directions will stand and say "But what do we play?" or "What do you want us to do?"  and I would say "I want you to play whatever you want to play, but you must all play together and you must all play with this object I gave you".  They mill around a bit, begin to talk, tentatively throw the object back and forth, and before you know it, they have a game going!  They create rules for themselves as they go and they set the goal of the game and identify boundaries.  They have an ingrained sense of fairness, so that the rules they set are generally favorable to all.  If something isn't working, they change it up a bit on their own.  And they have fun AND self-govern!

You may say "This sounds good, but what happens when you get a mean kid in the mix?"  It does happen!  And I confess - when I first started observing this method, I wondered what would happen when that kid showed up for the game.  I assumed they would resort to tattling or whining or arguing, and while a little of that went on, when I refused to step in unless someone was in danger, they exacted justice themselves!  They weren't usually onerous in their discipline, but simply had a way of shutting the bully down, of pinning him in so he couldn't ruin their game, or of drumming him out.  

Wouldn't it be nice if we could operate this way as grown-ups?  Well - we can!  That's what we Libertarians dream of having!  Admittedly, government still has a place in a free society like what these kids at play create, but we need government only for very basic needs - protection from those who insist on infringing on our liberty in some way, a means of discipline when all else has failed, and someone to perhaps preserve for us the most basic of requirements to carry out our lives.  

I believe our founding fathers envisioned just this idea of wide-open no-holds-barred freedom to live life out to the very edge.  To take risks and experience both failure and success, to create a legacy of our own choosing for our families and for future generations.  To all live together in this manner and to interweave our lives in such a way as to create a cacophony of vibrant experiences akin to brilliant colors all thrown against a canvas.  Somewhere along the way, someone got the idea that protecting our freedom meant telling us what we can and can't do.  We come away from that with a woven blanket of the same dull thread, and one with lots of holes and gaps at that.  

We are each of us Americans and we deserve better than what we have!  Do you want it?  Will you take it?  Let's make today a day of Independence Revival!

Forward in Freedom,

Melina Baker

Chair, Libertarian Party of Cherokee County

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