May 16, 2020
I love Cheez-Its®. Too much. When I drove truck for a living, I would always make sure I'd have one of those single-serve bags along with my lunch every day. I gave them up for a long time along with most other carbs, but I recently rediscovered them.
On Easter, the pastor of our church suggested that because we didn't all have the usual unleavened bread or whatever for communion, that we get a cracker or maybe a Cheez-It® to use for the online communion service. I just happened to have a partial box of Cheez-Its® available that day, so of course that was my choice for communion.
Side note: Unfortunately, Pastor Tony did not warn me that Satan would tempt me to eat the entire box during worship. I confess, I caved. Gleefully. And ever since then, every time we go grocery shopping I pick up a box of Cheez-Its®. Not the regular size box; I get the BIG one. I swear, I could sit and eat an entire box of Cheez-Its® in one sitting. If you've ever had a Cheez-It® yourself, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't... well... I pity you for your continued misfortune.
But my Cheez-It® issue is a good object lesson and analogy we can all utilize at this time in Pennsylvania. Buying the BIG box of Cheez-Its® does not mean you have to eat them all at once. You can eat a handful at a time and save the rest for later. You won't lose possession of the rest of them by saving them for later, either. They're still your Cheez-Its®, to enjoy whenever you like.
It's called portion control, and we can use the same approach to win back our freedom in Pennsylvania, despite Governor Tom Wolf's miserable edicts and executive orders.
If we review Article I, Section 2 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, it states:
§ 2. Political powers.
All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.
Pretty bold and broad language there. I mean, when you start talking about having the inalienable right at all times to abolish government, most people start thinking about 1776 and other epic upheavals in history. That sentiment is magnified when you include the term "in such manner as they think proper." The "they" in that phrase refers back to the earlier reference to "the people."
I'm thinking about the Wolf shutdown and the ridiculous orders he's provided, which have interfered with your right to pursue your own happiness as declared in Article I, Section 1 of our state constitution. Wait - did you think "pursue your happiness" was just a cute slogan they came up with for Pennsylvania's tourism ads, or a bit of feel-good language Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson tossed into the Declaration of Independence for good measure?
Au contraire, my friends, that language is actually included in Pennsylvania's Constitution. Franklin was involved in the writing of this document as well, so I'm sure there's a connection:
§ 1. Inherent rights of mankind.
All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.
Back to my point about portion control. If Section 2, regarding the political powers of the people, can be represented as the big box of Cheez-Its® I purchased, then perhaps going all 1776 and eating the whole box at once is not the best way forward.
While we absolutely at all times have the right to alter, reform, or abolish our government in such manner as we may think proper, eating a few Cheez-its® at a time and saving the rest of the box would be more appropriate at this time. If we possess the ability to do something entirely, then it follows that we also have the ability to partially do the same thing.
Let me be perfectly clear here: In my humble opinion, I believe Tom Wolf's orders violate of some of the inherent and indefeasible rights guaranteed by the Declaration of Rights in our state constitution, and that an argument can be made that given the particular and peculiar circumstances we're currently under, the people are left with no choice but to act on their own to alter, reform, or abolish such orders, in whole or in part.
Lawsuits in the Courts of our land have not remedied the problem. The General Assembly, which represents the people in Harrisburg, has sent multiple bills to Tom Wolf, for the purpose of letting you freely go back to work to enjoy your right to contract and perform services in exchange for money, and in turn buy food (acquiring property) and put it on your family's table (pursuing happiness), only to have those bills vetoed summarily. There is no intervening election at which we can choose a different Governor to effect an immediate reversal.
What method to effectuate change remains other than direct action by the people, as provided in and guaranteed by Article I Section 2 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?
Let me perfectly clear about one other thing: If you have committed no crime, your constitutionally guaranteed rights cannot be set aside or cancelled by any order or action of the Governor, the General Assembly, nor the Courts. There is also no provision allowing for that to happen simply because a virus is in our midst. This is made perfectly clear in Article I Section 25:
§ 25. Reservation of powers in people.
To guard against transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate.
They "shall forever remain inviolate." Period. End of story. I have previously covered these principles in more depth in this video presentation.
Now we don't have to alter, reform or abolish the entire government of Pennsylvania to start reclaiming our freedom. This is not a call to overthrow government. However, we can peacefully alter, reform, or abolish Tom Wolf's ham-fisted executive orders one handful of Cheez-Its® at a time, a/k/a portion control.
After all, those orders are the most predominant suppressors of freedom right now, and pose the most dangerous threat to our pursuit of happiness. There may be other state policies in place which have a similar impact, but the extremity of Wolf's orders are front and center right now. We can address others later.
During this "crisis" I've often been reminded of a line offered by Andy Dufresne, the character played by Tim Robbins in the movie The Shawshank Redemption, after he spent an extended period of time in solitary confinement during a lengthy prison sentence for a murder he didn't commit: "I guess it comes down to a simple choice really. Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'."
Isolation and the lack of normal human interaction is a sort of death. If you know anything about addiction, you understand that isolation plays a huge role in that scourge, and that it contributes to a death of the spirit long before it ultimately contributes, sadly, to death of the physical body. We've seen enough death already in Pennsylvania. I am not about to die, spiritually or physically, in isolation under Tom Wolf's suffocating orders. I'm going to get busy living. The following is how I plan to do it.
I'm going to return to attending church in person again. (You realize religious institutions have been exempt from stay at home orders all along, right?) I'll have to work with others on this objective since it's a communal activity, but I'm beyond ready. I'm going to start shaking hands again. I'm going to hug family members and friends who don't live with me. I'm going to attend picnics. I'm going to ignore the mask-shamers and breathe freely. I'm going to set aside the six foot rule. If there's a business open against Tom Wolf's wishes, I'm going to be inclined to patronize it.
Before you get all uptight, rest assured I will not force myself upon anyone. I'll offer a handshake or a hug, but no one's obligated to take me up on it. If you choose to wear a mask, that's OK by me, but I choose not to and that should be OK with you; I promise not to cough or sneeze on you, or even deliberately exhale in your direction. If you want six feet of space between us, then it's on you to maintain it. Stay away from me if you think I'm dangerous (I'm not). I won't be a jerk and intentionally crowd you, but I'm not going to have a hissy fit if you get closer to me.
Just one caveat: if you were a habitual "close-talker" prior to COVID, don't feel obligated to resume that sort of thing; I've never enjoyed close-talkers anyway. My normal personal space perimeter is not six feet, but it's not six inches either. So check yourself, close-talkers!
These are the areas of life where Tom Wolf and his long arm of the law (it's not law, actually, but orders; there is a distinct difference) can't really reach. He can't reach into my backyard. He can't be on every public street I walk. He can't be watching me all the time. I can find ways to defy Tom Wolf and his crazy edicts other than at places which are licensed by the state, or are insured, or that have anything to do with federal funds that he's threatening to withhold. (I think he's mostly bluffing on all that stuff anyway.)
One last thing: When I hear that line from The Shawshank Redemption in my head, I don't hear it in Tim Robbins' voice. I always hear it in the smooth baritone of Morgan Freeman, who plays Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding, Andy Dufresne's prison pal. Here's the inspirational closing scene where Red repeats that line.
Just like Andy Dufresne, we can tunnel our way out of the prison Tom Wolf has built around us and make our way back to sweet, blessed freedom. We can each chip away at the walls he's built, one handful of Cheez-Its® at a time.
The poignant two words from the closing line of that fine film are also the last two words I'll offer you on the topic of my Cheez-It® Redemption and the quest for a return to normal freedom:
Note: The manufacturer of Cheez-It® crackers has neither approved nor endorsed this message. That said, you should buy Cheez-It® crackers and enjoy them as often as possible! They are delicious!