Freedom and… Gardening? (and a giveaway!)

When I was a kid, I hated being told what to do. I loved playing outdoors, but one of the things I absolutely hated was helping my parents with gardening. They were shocked. After all, I loved plants, dirt, worms, sandboxes. What wasn’t there to love about getting dirty and spending time outside? I tried to explain it to them, but as a kid I couldn’t articulate why I didn’t like helping them with their gardens. But now I can.

It was the lack of freedom. When we planted tomatoes they had to be in neat rows, each one identical, each one filled with such-and-such amount of peat moss, manure, topsoil; each one topped with such-and-such amount of grass clippings, mulch… If I didn’t do it exactly right, they’d fuss at me: “That one’s looking a little tilted” or “there’s not enough manure in that hole there.” I disliked helping them with their gardening because I wasn’t allowed to be myself. I was allowed no personal freedom. Not one bit. Wear gloves. Don’t touch anything with your bare hands. Use such-and-such a shovel. The pansies had to alternate purple-white-purple-white with no variation. It was mindless work, robotic work. I was a cog in a machine.

Of course now, all grown up, I love gardening. But that’s because the garden is mine. Mine to grow successfully or mine to fail. My creativity, my decisions. I’ll tell you that there are never neat rows or square gardens or intricate color patterns. Just my personality expressed in plants.

And it’s a good metaphor for the way I live my life. I love freedom. I thrive on it. The best thing you could do is give me a blank sheet of paper and allow my imagination to run wild with it. Maybe I’ll write you a story. Maybe I’ll draw you a comic strip. Maybe I’ll make a better paper airplane. Maybe I’ll use it to start a campfire or a compost heap. The point is, it’s mine to try my hand at, to succeed or fail. And the next time you give me a blank sheet of paper, I’ll draw you something even better.

And that’s the principle that made this country great. The American Dream means there is no caste system: no one is stuck in the place he was born. Just look at Steve Jobs. Citizens are given property rights and freedom to live. And that’s it. There are no intricate rows that must be planted. No measured amounts of manure or peat moss that must be placed around each tomato. Or at least there shouldn’t be.

But the government has been growing year by year—it’s been happening for decades and decades now, and despite Uncle Sam’s good intentions, government’s attempts to help have been slowly forging chains, denying us the freedoms that made this country great. These policies have even been limiting our ability to travel between socio-economic classes. Whether you are liberal, conservative, or independent, the media is not on the side of truth. The media is not on our side. Issues are muddied with bitter oversimplification aimed at inspiring hatred at the opposing party. Truth is hidden in our government’s self-destructive bi-partisan structure. Politicians rarely act in the best interest of all involved but rather follow polls and buy votes with policy—or deny useful policies to make opponents fail. Both parties, and most politicians, are guilty of this falsehood.

For years, my husband and I sat around in frustration, wondering what we could do—two ants on a muddied globe. And now, we’ve taken a small step. My husband has started a new small publishing company called Freedom Forge Press, LLC. Its goal is to advocate freedoms on all fronts, illuminating the truth behind issues in a non-partisan way. We believe the most powerful tool anyone can be given is education and the ability to think critically about each issue. The great thing about America is that despite various beliefs, religions, and philosophies, Americans are free to live as they wish without having the beliefs of others imposed upon them. The government sometimes mistakenly creates legislation and regulation in an effort to help, but actually ends up causing more harm than good. In an ideal world, severe government intervention is not needed. Individual freedom is checked by individual consequences. An auto company would either have to build a better, more efficient car—or else go out of business. A student would have to study hard—or else drop out of school. In my gardening metaphor, my refusal to follow the “rules” of gardening might result in a failed tomato crop. But that one year of failure would teach me a lesson that couldn’t be learned by my parents strictly regulating how many cubic inches of manure I must add per tomato plant.

To help build interest in Freedom Forge Press, the company is hosting a giveaway. Sign up to follow FFP on Facebook or Twitter—or even just browse the site—and you’ll be entered to win a gift card to Amazon.com. Check out the contest here: http://www.freedomforgepress.com/2012/03/22/giveaway-contest/ It’s open for a few more days.

In addition, Freedom Forge Press welcomes guest bloggers writing on any topic involving the theme of freedom. Check out the “submissions” page for more information. Also, keep your eyes open. FFP will soon be opening its first fiction/nonfiction anthology on the theme of freedom.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ll check out Freedom Forge Press.