"The most common characteristic of all police states is intimidation by surveillance. Citizens know they are being watched and overheard. Their mail is being examined. Their homes can be invaded." ~ Vance Packard
"home (hohm) n. 1. The place where one lives, esp. with one's family.
2. One's native land...
3. A house."
~ Oxford American Dictionary, Heald Colleges Ed., 1980
I am homeless in manifold ways. Though I have had residences to call my own, were any my true home? I try here to answer that question, in the order the dictionary so conveniently suggests above.
The first home I remember distinctly was a black-and-white trailer, where I lived with my parents and, later, brother, in a small park owned by my grandparents. I was to share comparatively many domiciles with these three people, but I cannot truly say I ever felt any of those structures was really a home to me. I had a room of my own, usually, due to my paucity of siblings, and, if anything could have been said to have a homelike quality for me, it was the things in my room, those things I used from day to day, that went with me from place to place, such as the bed I flopped onto in the afternoon, or the dresser and mirror we broke on a sleepover. Eventually, however, even these roots slipped away, when my parents divorced, and those things were scattered across states.
I later came to see material objects as less important than what they represented, and, thus, came to choose better what to venerate, preferring the old briar given to me by a deceased friend to the finest Meerschaum, and, thus, to see that, though those things in my room represented home for me, that home was an illusion, a place I existed in while awaiting maturation of thought to begin, and with it the exploration of what Pirsig called "the high country of the mind." My true home in this sense, I have come to feel, is in that place I alone can inhabit.
Feelings for my more general home, that is, my native heath, are more involute, and, therefore, more difficult to crystallize and exposit. In the past, I have been a fervent nationalist and patriot, yet, as I have grown older, and my experience has grown, and my horizons expanded, I have fallen away from the view "my country, right or wrong," to a more objective and, in many ways, subjective, assessment of my country's conduct of its internal and external affairs. I feel, truly, no longer very much affiliation to this American government as it currently stands. The flaws of this regime, by which I mean the conduct of the government itself, not any particular temporary administration, are pointed up by the fact that its acts and direction may be, within general parameters, be compared with the paths and pathos of past institutions of the same stripe, and conclusions thus be drawn as the probable direction of this foundering ship of State. The State, indeed, condemns itself with every similarity to the doomed enterprises of the past, the lessons of which it will not heed. In every society which has followed the path of militarism, the way of the sword, inevitably the end has been horrible, destructive, and utterly avoidable, yet, just as seemingly inevitably, the path of violence as a redress for trespass is always the one chosen, though it seldom achieves the stated ends in view. Indeed, except in the extremity of personal defense, where alone a clear demarcation may be drawn between potentiality on the one hand and certainty on the other, violence can seldom be justified, except as revenge. The actions of the State as I write this, in the Asian subcontinent, bear witness to the basically vengeful nature of Statism.
Similarly, to draw an internal paradigm, the State's imposition on its citizens the fiscal onus of a "war" on intoxicants (I do not say "drugs" alone, as a steady propaganda campaign, supported by tax dollars, is also being waged on alcohol and tobacco) is a counterproductive, not to say criminal, presumption of superiority on the State's part, a war, as has been pointed out by others, on the citizenry itself. Whether the substances themselves are harmful is irrelevant, what is at hand is the liberty of the individual to ingest what he sees fit, so long as he does not infringe on the rights of others. A great deal is made of driving motor vehicles under the influence of such substances, as a prop for this persecution, the argument generally running along the lines that, when one operates a conveyance on a public road in such a state, he is already in violation of his fellows' right to safety on the highways. Such a view, however, cannot be supported in my opinion, because the driver is still only a potential threat, and should not be stripped of his liberty and privileges until a direct act against his fellows occurs. Those who have lost friends and relatives to these sorts of accidents, for accidents they still are, whatever lobbying groups may cry, will take issue with my stand, but I truly feel that, when one travels on a public road, it is one's duty to be vigilant, and look out for oneself, rather than expect all one's fellow citizens who may pose a hypothetical danger to be bureaucratically swept from the lanes. Passengers should choose the drivers of the cars they climb into with care, and the driver should feel the commensurate responsibility for the persons who have placed themselves under his protection.
The position that one should be responsible for oneself is not a popular one, for the very reason that, sometimes, one must take stands on principle that do not flow along with the mainstream of collectivist, societal thought, which is anathema to me, and which I feel the American government, and many governments elsewhere, are attempting to foist on their citizenry through the aforementioned propaganda campaigns. The idea they appear to be trying to convey is that the answer to the excesses of government at the national level is more and bigger government, at an even higher level, a premise I find not only illogical, but irrational. For this reason, if no other, I no longer feel as if the United States is truly my home. As I have stated elsewhere, I will never betray my country, but it is not only capable but desirous, it increasingly seems, of betraying me, and likely will at the first opportunity. I truly fear that to remain in this country much longer will mean imprisonment if not execution for me and those who believe as I do. Make no mistake, death squads and 'disappearing' citizens are not just things that happen in other people's countries. If they are not already operating here, the time is not far off when they will begin. The groundwork is being laid as this is written, both by the agencies of the State and their willing accomplices in the State-run media, for the general citizenry to turn a blind eye to these officially sanctioned crimes.
The question of my aversion to the things being done to my country, my current political home, leads inexorably to consideration of my future home, that is, the domicile in which I plan to pass the better part of the remainder of my life. The only home in which I can conceive of being able to spend time happily is the sailboat I plan to restore and live aboard. Being essentially rootless, and unencumbered by responsibility for the lives of others, the freedom of the seas is the Siren song I am drawn to, though I hope not to end on the reef of loss. I desire the decades, if I am so fortunate to pass them as I wish, to stream by fully and quietly, and that, when exigency or age dictate, my last day is passed at sea, aboard the vessel which is the only physical place I will ever truly call "home."