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A Week of Living Free at Porcfest - by Szandor Blestman

• Mr. Blestman himself! via

Home is where the heart is. That's what I've heard. I think that perhaps one can't fully understand that old saying until he loses his heart to a place. I have recently discovered this on a personal basis when I was able to spend a week camping in New Hampshire at the Porcupine Freedom Festival put on by the Free State Project. After my experiences there, I would say that New Hampshire has captured my heart. Certainly New Hampshire is a beautiful state, but nice scenery can be found in every state, even right here in Illinois. The inhabitants are what really make a place exceptional, and the people of New Hampshire and the participants of the Free State Project are exceptional people who exude the welcoming feeling one expects when arriving home.

One might ask, "What exactly makes the Free State Project participants so exceptional?" This is a legitimate question and one that might be a little difficult to put into words. I could write about attitude, but there's more to it than that. I could write about acceptance and belonging, but that also wouldn't cover it all. In fact, a combination of these things wouldn't adequately answer the question. There's something more here, something hard to put one's finger on, something that needs to be experienced rather than discussed. The best description I can think of is to call it "heart," but that also doesn't seem to cut it.

FSP participants are the doers of the world. They don't simply complain about the way the world works, they do something about it. And they don't just write letters and beg their politicians to do something for them. While there is nothing wrong with this kind of participation in our system, it is not enough for many of these New Hampshire activists to simply voice their opposition to a law and depend on their representatives to do something. They will take action themselves. They will show up at the state house for important votes. Most importantly, they will say "no" and refuse to obey bad laws. Some will put their bodies and their property on the line in search for greater freedom, just like the founders of this nation did.

This is what freedom is about. It is the attitude that we should be able to decide for ourselves how to behave, so long as another individual is not harmed nor his property damaged. It is the attitude of respect to others that they know how to best live their lives rather than the attitude that there is higher power that knows best and should be forced upon everyone. FSP participants understand that in order to live freely, they must allow others to live freely as well. They understand that one should allow others the freedom to make their own mistakes so that they can learn. These are people who welcome you and wish you the best, but they also will allow you to live your life as you see fit regardless of how they may feel about the mistakes you might be making.

This doesn't mean the people of the FSP are mean or don't care about others. Indeed, they are likely some of the most generous people you'll ever meet. They are likely to give generously to any charity they find worthy and have displayed their generosity when supporting the very activists who risk arrest by their civil disobedience protesting victimless "crimes" that harm no one. FSP participants are forgiving and will likely be there to pick one up after a mistake, confident that one who makes a mistake will have learned a lesson from it. The difference is, they don't believe in one size fits all solutions to problems. They don't believe in being forced to give to an institution that has proven itself to be a failure time and again. They think they should be able to decide where their charitable funds would be put to the best use. They believe, for the most part, in a voluntary society where human interaction takes place without the threat of force. They welcome anyone who shares this point of view.

Of course, I don't speak for all people involved with the FSP. In fact, I speak only for myself and my personal impressions. Anyone who might be interested in experiencing for themselves what the Free State Project is about should visit their website, look into their movement and make arrangements to come to one of their events. They hold the Liberty Forum in March and Porcfest, which I recommend, in June. This really is a movement that needs to be experienced to be fully understood. Should you go to one of the aforementioned events and/or should you decide to sign up to become a Free State Project participant, please mention my name when doing so. I'd love to win a golden porcupine as one who has influenced three others to sign up.

When I left New Hampshire to come back to Illinois, I didn't feel as one whose vacation had come to an end. I felt as if I was leaving home. I felt as one who is saying good bye to his friends and family to go live in a strange and foreign land. Although I was returning to a place where I have people around me who care about and support me, I felt like I was leaving behind my kindred spirits. Maybe that's the best way to describe the feeling I got from the FSP participants. They have heart and spirit. It shines with an inner light unlike anything I've ever experienced, a beacon in this ever increasing tyranny, and beckons me home. A week there was hardly enough. Hopefully I will one day go back to stay.

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