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Growing Home

Written by Subject: Constitution

Perhaps you are too young to remember when childhood was safe; children played outside from the time they were small. We went trick or treating without thinking someone might hurt us. Doors were open in our neighborhoods; we accepted and trusted each other.

Children learned most of what mattered at home and in their neighborhoods before ever starting school and old people were sources of amazing stories.

I learned about the Pony Express from Mr. Black across the street who had, at 16, been a Pony Express Rider. His eyes lit up when he talked about it. At age 90 Mr. Black was the one in the family who fixed the antenna on the roof. I climbed up with him and no one thought I was in danger, but a help.

Along the street I visited with neighbors who were retired and had a lot to tell me about a world then gone. I experienced it through them. I learned I was capable and could think for myself.

I am old enough to remember staying up late during the summer to play with friends, climbing fences, and organizing complicated games that could go on for days. I remember helping with chores, feeling the pride of knowing my work mattered.

I am old enough to remember when we were not afraid to experiment with the chemicals from our chemistry sets. Our parents asked about what we had learned, and we learned a lot. It was painless. We were exploring the world around us with minimal oversight.

Kids knew chemistry and physics and electronics by doing.

My first job was ironing handkerchiefs and shirts for my married sister. I was six at the time and counted every penny. My first business was a lemonade stand that sold lemonade made from the lemons produced by our own tree. I also sold candy bars I bought, three for a dime, at the Sav-on store where you got that price break. I walked there alone and earned hundreds of dollars in this way.

I grew up in Los Angeles. It was a wonderful world.

That was the world I wanted for my kids and I was disappointed. By the 70s and 80s the world was changing for parents and children. It was not perfect when I was growing up, but in those days we still trusted each other; the frightening world was still 'out there.'

We grew up hearing at school about The Bomb, we practiced hiding under our desks from the unthinkable. But that was a small thing; it was not all around us but something we could forget about most of the time.

As I was raising my children I wanted them to have the neighborhood I had known and it had vanished.

In the world where I had grown up government had not yet oozed into our lives so much that there was nothing we could so without asking. Ronald Reagan had not yet converted California to the model for the federalized State. The logic of control was beginning to constrict the lives we lived in community but we did not yet see where that logic would take us.

Today the stock market continues to plunge; bailouts pay our hard-earned money into hands that spend it for lavish weekend binges. The retirement funds guaranteed by lifetimes of work are canceled in the blink of an eye. Homeland Security buys multi-million dollar finger print machines for small local police departments. Local law enforcement are told they make the law and that the Constitution is a myth meaning nothing. Those who disagree are 'domestic terrorists,' 'Constitutional Nuts.'

They, not us, are demented.

In school, children once studied the Constitution. In the 7th Grade all students received a copy of the Declaration of Independence. 8th Graders could pass tests on the Constitution that today flummox US Senators. Our family read the Declaration aloud on the 4th of July. We understood what the 4th of July meant.

When I was growing up the PTA raised the money needed for our school's special projects. Parents were in charge. No one looked to government, parents handled it.

Despite what you hear most Americans are still doing just that. In most towns and cities today, it is still community volunteers who raise the money and get it done. Homeless shelters, hospice care, help at the hospital, first aid training, search and rescue, these and more are carried out by volunteers.

From before the time of the Revolution communities handled their own problems. Fraternal orders came into being; women's clubs took on jobs, organizing either locally or nationally to ensure that their local community needs were met. Libraries were started, stocked with books; children were educated. Orphans were adopted by families. In 1853 The Children's Aid Society undertook to meet the need of children abandoned on city streets. People took action, using the tools available and raising the money.

If a tool is not working you should notice that and get the right tool. Government is a tool. It is not working.

Every county in the United States is bankrupt along with the states and, of course, the Federal government. Having spent us into debt those same people are looking at us as a source of more money to continue their life styles and fund their retirement; it is not them, they think, who will accept less pay, be laid off, lose those 'golden years.' Having never stayed within a budget they do not understand the concept.

There was a time when families sat down together to talk when Dad lost his job. Deferring purchases of clothing, eating more cheaply, canceling vacations, growing their own food; they did what was needed. Parents and children, aunts, uncles, cousins and others in the community pitched in where necessary, knowing they, in their turn, might need help. We can do the same.

“What do we really need?” is the first question to ask ourselves. The second is, “how do we provide those essentials for less money?”

When those employed by government give you their priorities you will understand why government does not work.

Most of the good things that happen in our lives take place in exactly the same way they did before the Revolution. People locally see the need and come together to ensure those needs are met. Look at your own community if you doubt this.

Get active in your community and relearn the lessons once common to a people who governed themselves.


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