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The British are Coming!

by Steve Austill

If you don't belong to the IPA Board, you don't get much chance to express yourself about the IPA as an organization. So I thought it would be a good idea to provide a type of IPA "town meeting" during the convention. Members could share their ideas, thoughts, concerns, and hopes for the IPA in a free and open forum. Being an old history buff and a special lover of Sam Adams, I thought it would be interesting to have as a model the atmosphere of Boston Common in 1774, hard by the Liberty Tree.

It was fun to prepare. Tony gave me a couple of kitchen crates to use as soapboxes. By the platform I spotted the perfect Liberty Tree. It was big. It was strong. It was beautiful. It was young.

Last but not least, I got the two essentials for any IPA workshop: tissue and mats. Fifteen minutes before the workshop, I played a bugle call on my trombone and shouted, "The British are coming! The British are coming!" I ran 100 paces and shouted again, "The British are coming! The British are coming!" All around the campus I ran and shouted. I thought of Paul Revere, Sam Adams, and John Hancock.

A good group arrived to see what was going on, but I was especially thrilled to see that almost all "the kids" came. I talked about the historical situation in 1774. Patriots were furious that they were being taxed by a Parliament in which they had no say. They resented being forced to host British soldiers and German mercenaries in their own private homes. They suffered from the British naval blockade of Boston harbor. They were enraged when the King's Governor adjourned the democratically elected assembly. Now there was no place to air grievances. It was a question of liberty or tyranny!

Today, in 2001, we are fighting a tyranny of a different kind . . . the tyranny of repressed feelings.

Then the floor was open and soapboxes ready for action. The response was immediate. The following is something like what I heard:

I'm really mad and I'm not going to take it anymore! Big business is taking over everything and corporations control our destiny! Television commercials are seducing our people! Our time is now, because in a few years 20% of the population will be depressed! We don't need to do anything because if we are a loving community, people will come to us naturally. I've tried to tell people about primal but they won't come. We should all support Sam's story project and get the message out! Let's get going! This is urgent! I'd like to get a group started, but I haven't been able to do so. 140,000 people die annually from prescription drugs! We must act! What are we to do? What are we to do? Sam Adams started the Committees of Correspondence. He contacted all the other states: New York, Georgia, Virginia, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, Maryland, Delaware, North and South Carolina. They wrote to each other and started working together. We should join with other like—minded groups like NIP and others! What should we do?

After everyone had their say, the energy petered out. Individuals drifted away just like they would have done years ago. A few persons stayed around and said a little more. There was excitement in the air, but no conclusions. Perhaps Jonathan's startling message at Cabaret was inspired by the workshop. I don't know. In our laughter and fun, he confronted us with 20th century political terror.

My little idea for an IPA "town meeting" had blossomed into a consideration of the powers of evil in our world today. What a challenge!

Walking to the closing ceremony, I saw Freddie in the distance. She looked over and hollered, "The British are coming! The British are coming!"

That felt good to me.

This article appeared in the Fall 2001 IPA Newsletter.

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