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Sunni's Salon, January 2007

With winter, and especially the turn of the calendar page to a new year being a time of reflection and resolution, I had planned to focus on individuals and ideas that I found helpful and inspiring with this issue of Sunni’s Salon. But in all honesty, I didn't expect it to turn out exactly as it did. The combination of an engaging, stimulating interview, a couple of excellent books, a friend’s exciting freedom-enhancing project, and my return to my beloved MAL's side has buoyed my spirits beyond my most optimistic hopes.

I know that to some, my preference to seek happiness seems naïve or misplaced when we seem to be up to our necks in bad news. As I’ve said before, however, there’s a lot of difference between paying attention to trends and being paralyzed—or worse, consumed—by them. Bad news captures our attention; it can feed our fear and anger—but often leaves us with no constructive outlet for those feelings. And they can continue to build, until the concerned, freedom-loving individual has become a bitter shell, caught by chains forged by his own good intentions that have been subverted by focusing on the wrong scale.

And that's what living a successful life seems to come down to: keeping a sense of scale and trying to be a constructive, positive force, rather than a negative one. One person alone will probably not topple the TSA’s death grip on the flying public; but if more were to follow John Gilmore's lead—or just boycott the quasi-governmental airline industry altogether until sanity returns to it, and make their action public knowledge, those multipronged pushes can turn the trick. Concentration works for us, but so does dilution under appropriate conditions. Believing that one can make a difference is essential to even trying—and that, in a nutshell, is why I have redoubled my efforts to focus on positives. “Think globally, act locally” sounds good, but I think it’s exactly backward: by focusing on how one can improve one’s own freedom, one’s concentrated effort can be shared with others, and build up to freer interactions among many individuals. Turning away from the state's coercive structures, and finding our own ways of exchanging value and interacting with each other respectfully can have no other end but the collapse of the state.

Fortunately for me, my quest isn’t nearly as quixotic as it might sound. In this issue of Sunni’s Salon I spotlight many companions on this road, albeit of varying stripes and focus. Jerome Tuccille spoke with me at length on a wide variety of subjects, including spiritualism, freedom, economics, and pursuing dreams; it was a treat to catch up with him. Other inspiring resources can be found in the webby wanderings. I review three books this time around: Look Homeward, America by Bill Kaufmann; A Sense of the World by Jason Roberts; and John C. Wright's first novel, The Golden Age. My musical maunderings vacillate between old and new, also a fitting theme for a new year issue.

Welcome to a new year at Sunni’s Salon! Tom and I are pleased to welcome you in from the chill, and have the fires stoked and the pillows plumped for your reading comfort. Hot tea or coffee, mulled wine or cider, and even eggnog are still available for your sipping pleasure—we aren’t ones to embrace asceticism after the holiday's indulgences. Enjoy yourselves and be good to yourselves ... while keeping a sense of scale, of course. If there’s something we can do to enhance your pleasure here, drop us a line.

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