tribe

I’ve had a busy week of celebrating Halloween (one of my favorite days of the year) and my birthday (also one of my favorite days of the year), replete with friends, candy, crazy costumes and liver damage. Here’s Some Old Bullshit to tide you over until I think of something meaningful to say: it’s something I wrote after the last time I moved, when I bought my (first!) house, originally posted 7/19/2009.

tribe – noun any aggregate of people united by ties of descent from a common ancestor, community of customs and traditions, adherence to the same leaders, etc.

They came from the Seacoast (on the eastern border), Salem (on the southern border), and Winchester (on the western border). They came from the city (Manchester) and the country (Barnstead, Grafton). They came from all over New Hampshire, by way of states all over the U.S. (Maine, Washington, California, South Carolina, Kansas, Georgia). They came to help me move into my new home.

None of my blood relatives came to help me (in fact, none of them even did me the courtesy of acknowledging that I’d invited them to do so). None of my coworkers, some of whom I respect and enjoy, and some of whom live in the same town as me and told me they’d help me, actually showed up to do so. But every single New Hampshire Porcupine, to a person, who told me they’d come to help me, kept their word and did so. Several brought their children, and put them to work as well. Kids hauled my garbage, searched my house to find where my shell-shocked cats were hiding, and planted a shrub in my garden as a housewarming gift. Every single one of these people could have found a more enjoyable way to spend a beautiful warm Saturday (it was even the birthday of two of the kids (twins)).

These people are my tribe. I have a tribe! One and only one thing unites us, but that one thing is enough: the realization that we don’t need government. That, in fact, government usually/always (opinions differ on this point) does more harm than good. The government certainly didn’t help me move. It didn’t carry any furniture down my stairs. It didn’t come over, shake my hand, hand me a business card, and say “I live down the street. If you ever need anything, call me.” It didn’t rent me a truck (a private business did that). It didn’t provide me a modern-day place to “hunt and gather” enough “bananas” with which to buy a house (four entrepreneurs who founded and run my company did that). All it did was leave a nasty note on my car for I’m not sure what reason (parking too long on a public street by the U-Haul office?) warning me that if I didn’t move it soon, I’d get towed.

The actual move took very little time: about 45 minutes on the loading end, 30 minutes on the unloading end. The rest of the afternoon was spent eating, drinking, joking, gossiping and debating political philosophy. And when it comes right down to it, that’s what life is all about. There are certain timeless and universal truths. Babies are cute. Cats do funny things. Charred meat and beer taste good. People fall in, and out, of love. And we hairless apes still, after, what, 6 million years?, are arguing about how best to live together in relative peace without stealing each other’s bananas. And that’s OK! So maybe the occasional four-letter word was shouted (in front of the children, no less!). Each of us respects the others’ right to keep the bananas they’ve picked themselves.

For the first time in a long time, I have a sense of hope. I suddenly understand on a different level that it’s not about improving the government, or finding a way to coopt it, or take it over, or defeat it. It’s about learning to work with it, or around it, or flat-out IGNORING it. And in the meantime, we’re teaching our children, and earning our livings, and building our homes, and living our lives. Good, decent lives. With gossip. And beer.

Excuse me for quoting a politician, but it really is a good line: Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem. If you, like us, understand that… and also understand that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (aka TANSTAAFL), that you need to find an honest way to earn a living and put a roof over your head and bananas in your belly… then I invite you to join us here in New Hampshire. (But please, don’t come if you haven’t grasped both halves of that last sentence; we have ways of dealing with those types…)

Join the Free State Project now.

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