In a word, Freedom.
This is a lesson I learned the hard way. For the very first posting in my brand-spankin'-new blog I thought I'd share the evolution that is my political and social belief structure. Yes, it started with identity theft.
One day many years ago my wallet was stolen from me. My whole life and all of my identifying paperwork was in that wallet. It was rifled through, I'm guessing, and what was unusable for the original thief was scattered to the wind for countless other opportunistic individuals to use and abuse at their discretion. I was at a loss. I had always played by the rules, and had full faith in "The System". As soon as I realized what had happened I did exactly what I had been told to do my whole life - call each company or industry and notify them of the theft along with the police. Then, when charges began appearing on credit cards and dollars began disappearing from my bank account I again did what I had been taught to do. I called them all, explained the situation and expected to receive assistance in the manner in which I had been told I would. "Call the company, they'll always work something out with a good customer." they'd say.
I found out much to my dismay that when you don't have any money and your identity is being used to break the rules, nobody cares. Companies will not "work with you". Debtors will not work out a payment plan. The police won't even bother to save the report you filed because a stolen wallet just isn't important enough to complete a simple task.
And so it began, the theft (which later happened a second time) was the spark to a new me. I uncovered the inadequacies and lies of corporate and consumerist America. I began to understand that what I had been taught to be when I grew up wasn't worth much of anything. I also slowly began to realize that without the pressure of a good credit score hanging over my head, without the constant use (and access) of plastic money, with the inability to use basic purchasing power beyond cold hard cash - I was suddenly free from financial woes. I was free from "keeping up". I was free from defining myself via consumerism. Granted, I was forced into this freedom - but when I learned to embrace it, I loved it. I took it beyond freedom from consumerism.
After many years of reading, experiencing and living life in a way I never expected I learned that there were other freedoms to be had. In a sense, political freedoms. Religious freedoms. Social freedoms. I learned that sometimes, just sometimes by covering your face and standing quietly I had freedom of expression that I could never have achieved before. Even yelling loudly, by removing my own identity my words were louder. My thoughts were louder, my ideals were louder.
I also felt free to explore the ideologies of my family, friends, this country with a critical eye that I had not previously had the stones to explore. I could question freely, I could examine freely, I could agree and disagree freely. Which of course, leads me to a more political outlook on life.
My experiences have left me feeling Anti-State, that is to say, free.
In a word, Freedom.