It’s easy to sit back and watch a situation escalate. It’s easy to keep quiet when it comes to speaking out against the masses. It’s easy to do nothing when something could be done. You are taught to follow the leader and it’s easy to follow. When someone drops you an order, you are given a choice. The easier choice is to obey. It’s hard to refuse when you face the threat of consequences.
I went through life the easy way for a long time. I’d go to whatever extent necessary to please authorities. This changed on the night of September 9th, 2011 after watching police arrest Derrick J. Freeman, Ryan Maddox, Roz Alejandro, and Nick Caswell. Little did I know, I’d attended an event called Live Free Or Dance that night. Regardless, I was happy to be there, until Keene police decided to crash. To make a long story short, they disturbed the peace. People were thrown to the ground, robbed, and pepper-sprayed. Within moments, I found myself cowering behind a tree, watching central square descend into madness.
As people were being arrested, speakers and lights were left behind for officers to confiscate. Tears in my eyes and adrenaline in my veins, I ran to collect whatever property belonging to whomever before police could. I saved just about everything but the P.A. system, including my strobe light. I threw everything into a bush until police cleared out, and then I returned everything to its rightful owner.
Once the deed had been done, I sat down on a park bench and attempted to make sense of what had just happened. I thought about the sound of the mace, and the people I’d seen thrown to the ground. I tried to figure out what any of us had done wrong. The one song played before police arrived repeated through my head. My mind was racing, and then I realized what I’d done. I had disobeyed, yet I felt I wasn’t in the wrong.
By swiping my strobe light before that officer could, I’d obstructed what he was trying to do. However, it was not his to take. My friends had just been hurt by those who are supposed to help. Blood and tears were shed at the hands of my alleged ”heroes”. Then I flashed back to the time a Swanzey police officer ticketed my mother for going 5 miles over the speed limit, on her birthday. Then I remembered the time I’d been coerced into snitching my best friends out at school. I remembered the straight A’s I earned, but wondered if they’d really made me smarter. I remembered all the ridiculous standards I was being held to, and then I spoke out.
“We were the victims here,” I said as I stood up, and left.
Within the next few weeks, I returned to central square to find Derrick hosting a Free Speech Friday. After I heard about the Give Peace a Chance event, I had a shirt customized that read the beloved quote. I began looking into this, and some words I’d heard thrown around. These were words like “activism,” and “liberty,” along with “peace.” Of course I’d heard them before, but I didn’t really understand. I began researching, and talking to this Derrick J. character.
Sure enough, come that Tuesday, I caught Derrick and a few other liberty lovers outside my school with signs and pamphlets. I read, and understood the information. I’d keep up with suggested blogs, YouTube channels, and of course, Free Talk Live. I also started attending events I was invited to, such as Shire choir, outreach, court cases, and 420′s. At this point, I started bringing activism into schools. I began informing people of their rights and handing out literature. I might encourage some in-school civil disobedience from time to time. “Hold Your Color” is a good example of my in-school civil disobedience.
Things have changed for me. Now fifteen, I can say that being involved in the liberty movement has helped me become a better person. I call myself a voluntaryist, and encourage peaceful interactions. I follow the non-aggression principle, as I’ve yet to see violence ever solve an issue. I’ve come to find self-ownership is a crucial asset to a free society. When you follow, you’re not staying true to yourself. I make mistakes to learn, and I sure do learn. I can think for myself, and not fear the judgement of others. I do not obey, in hopes of a day where no one will rule. Basically, I keep the golden rule in mind. Treat people how you want to be treated. I refuse to hate, as it only hurts the hater, generates hate, and comes right back to me. I’ve found peace is the way and it’s really as simple as that! By living by these principles I have seen the errors of my former ways.
I used to feel I was better than others based on what I wore or how I looked. I used to be hateful and judgemental. I followed all the trends and kept up with mainstream. I was indoctrinated through media and society, and I became a bully! Now, I would stand up and peacefully defend myself, or others, against a bully. If I found myself in a crowd of wrong people, I’d try to spread right. This applies to everything. If a cop is harassing me or a friend, I will react and record. If I find myself in a herd of misguided people (and I commonly do,) I will speak out, and offer information. I refuse to do nothing, when something could be done. The easy way isn’t always the right way.