What good fortune for those in power that
 people do not think.

-- Adolf Hitler


On Terror by Gaither Stewart -- July 2002

Terrorism is a story of relationships between power/authority and its subjects, and between oppressors and oppressed. We are used to the words, power and authority. They are often used synonymously, as if they were equivalent. But that is not the case. They are different, and the distinction between the two concepts is significant. Power [pouvoir, potere] implies the faculty to act or perform and in our minds is related to force, coercion and violence, in the sense of “authoritarian.” Authority instead implies legitimacy, in the sense of  “legitimate authority,” or the legitimate faculty to act or perform. The distinction is between legitimate authority on one hand, and crude naked power on the other. However, authority like democracy itself is always a shaky business. It stands on the edge of an abyss, perpetually menaced by power, easily transformed into authoritarianism.


On Freedom by Gaither Stewart -- July 2002

Over breakfast we looked around and with surprise ascertained that many people around us apparently refuse to choose. I say apparently because I realized that I can experience only my own freedom. Since this is a metaphysical matter I can only have risky opinions about another’s freedom - or lack of it. It is impossible to determine metaphysical freedom in another. Nonetheless the brutal reality is that most people do not seem to even know they are prisoners. They have no chance of being free unless they become aware of the possibility of choice and then choose it. My wife and I agreed that the freedom of choice is the most wonderful capacity of human beings. I cannot remember the precise moment I made my choice of freedom but I do remember when I was not free and when I came to know I was a prisoner - of collective habits, customs, traditions, prejudices, career, fashions. Since then I came to understand that my interior freedom is embedded in choice, and thus in myself.


Sobre la libertad por Gaither Stewart -- Julio de 2002

Durante el desayuno miramos a nuestro alrededor y, con sorpresa, observamos cuánta gente a nuestro alrededor rehúsa escoger, aparentemente. Digo aparentemente porque me doy cuenta de que sólo puedo experimentar mi propia libertad. Puesto que este es un asunto metafísico, sólo puedo tener opiniones arriesgadas sobre la libertad, o falta de libertad, de otra persona. Es imposible determinar la libertad metafísica en otra persona. No obstante, la brutal realidad es que la mayoría de la gente no parece saber que es prisionera. No tienen ninguna posibilidad de ser libres a no ser que sean conscientes de la posibilidad de elección y luego escogerla. Mi esposa y yo estamos de acuerdo en que la libertad de elección es la más maravillosa capacidad de los seres humanos. No puedo recordar el preciso momento en el que realicé mi elección por la libertad, pero recuerdo cuando no era libre y cuándo supe que era prisionero: de hábitos colectivos, costumbres, tradiciones, prejuicios, mi carrera, las modas. Desde entonces he llegado a comprender que mi libertad interior está incluida en la elección y, por ello, en mí mismo.


Dragging Main: Memories of Growing Up In a Small Town by Jana Pendragon -- May 1999

This time around The Dragon’s Roar veers away from our usual topic, traditional Country & Western and American roots music, in order to address a topic that is a significant factor in the development of this genre of music. Our detour concerns the changes that have stripped small town America of its dignity and created several generations of youth who feel lost and alienated from the world around them. While our Mother Earth continues to spin in the sky, America’s children are falling apart. No greater piece of evidence can be offered to support this fact than the recent events in Littleton, Colorado.

In the aftermath of this tragedy I was drawn back to my own childhood spent in the small town of Reno, Nevada. During the ‘50s and ‘60s Reno was the center of the universe to me. It was the best of civilization and traditional country life all rolled into one. With the desert on one side, the Sierra Nevada mountain range on the other and the Truckee River connecting the two, I was sure Reno was paradise.

As the full impact of Littleton, Colorado continued to hit me, I found myself returning time and time again to those cherished memories of Reno, Nevada and the question of the alienation of our children. I happened upon an essay I began in 1993, shortly after losing my mother and baby brother. Reflective, I was at that time still mourning a loss that can never be reconciled. Still, the essay, “Dragging Main,” speaks volumes about the alienation I felt as a teenager as small town Reno turned into a grotesque version of a gaudy carnival side show. Reading through the essay I came to realize the connection between my words, written years ago, and the tragic events in Littleton.