Liberrants

Welcome to Liberrants, a blog dedicated to editorials, discussions, and studies of all things libertarian. Don't let the title mislead you; it's merely my attempt to be creative in describing myself as a "hopeful curmudgeon" who embraces the goal of the free, peaceful, economically vibrant society envisioned by America's founding fathers. Jump in! Contribute! Enjoy!

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Location: Tucson, Arizona, United States

A critically thinking curmudgeon whose goal, in addition to creatively venting about the imperfect world in which we live, is to induce critical thinking in others. The ultimate goal is to help bring about a peaceful world in which we can all live in freedom.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

How to be Content While Daring to Be Different

Apropos of nothing in particular, I feel motivated to set forth my prescription for living a contented libertarian life. I must stress in advance that this is rather akin to a drug addict in the early stages of treatment expounding on how to live a life free of substance abuse. In other words, this my philosophy, but by no means am I currently following all of my own advice. Rather, my purpose is to set forth some general principles that, if followed with perseverance, will hopefully lead to satisfaction and contentment. There is nothing original in what I have to say, but I think the restatement of some basic philosophic principles would be beneficial. Here are six of them, in no particular order of importance.

1. Be responsible for your actions. There are few things more maddening than watching someone do something incredibly stupid, knowing that they know what they’re doing is stupid, then watching them try to avoid the inevitable consequences of their actions. Whether it is misspending money, performing carelessly and recklessly at work, abusing substances, being unfaithful to a spouse or significant other, neglecting one’s children, or making rash career decisions, we alone are responsible for the choices we make and must accept and deal with the consequences. No one else is responsible, nor should they bear the burden of our irresponsibility. A person who cannot accept responsibility for their actions and learn constructively from the consequences that result is a person who cannot legitimately claim to be in control of their own life and thus has no grounds for complaint when they lose some (or all) of their freedom as a result. You cannot have it both ways. The current welfare state we in the Western World live in is a prime example of this principle in action.

2. Be sincere in your dealings with, and be a true friend to others. This is more difficult than it sounds. How often do we promise others that we will do things that we cannot or do not want to do, but somehow feel obligated, or that we are being selfish or impolite if we decline to do them? This answer is, very frequently, if my own life is any guide. If you cannot (or simply do not feel that you can or should) do something for someone, tell them so, politely if possible. If they are truly a friend, they will understand. If not, they have shown you their true colors. Be grateful for that. You probably have many so-called “friends” who do not hesitate to ask the world of you, but somehow never seem to have the wherewithal or time to return the favor. These people make up the majority, but you do not have to follow the herd or emulate them. Being honest will not only make you stand out, but will lift a heavy burden from your heart as well.

3. Find out who your real friends are. This is not easy either, but it’s an extension of the rule in the previous paragraph. Each time you are in a difficult situation not of your own making and you need the help of a friend, note that friend’s response (write it down in narrative form if you have to). How often does the friend give you an excuse for not helping, not coming to visit, not giving you emotional or moral support, or not calling you just to chat? Do they frequently impose on you, but resent it when you impose on them? Do they do all of the taking while you do all of the giving? If the answer to the first question is “always” and the answer to the second and third is “yes”, then you might want to reevaluate your friendship and decide whether or not you really want to continue your association with this person. As a matter of fact, this same test can be applied to spouses and family members as well.

4. God, Family, and True Friends are everything. Literally everything, in that order, no exceptions. See principles two and three for guidance.

5. Respect the persons and property of others. This is simply the “Golden Rule” put into action. You have no doubt noticed that the vast majority of people everywhere seem to have no qualms about seizing other people's property or using coercion and violence against others as long as it is for a cause that they favor. Yet let the same be done to them and they will scream for bloody vengeance. Taxes are the most obvious example. Take as many income tax deductions as you can and make “the other guy, the rich man” pay. Tax my neighbor to pay for the new sports stadium that my favorite team will use, but don’t you dare raid my wallet to subsidize your rotten public school system! Remember that what can be done unto others, whether by government, large organizations of people, or rogue individuals, can be done unto you as well.

6. NEVER lose your identity to the group. It’s amazing how a nation that was founded on principles emphasizing the rights and strengths of the individual has degenerated into a collectivist mobogarchy in all aspects of life. While we as a society preach the idea of individuality, we need merely to look around us to see that just the opposite is our daily practice. Want to home-school your child, letting them actually learn, according to their individual skills and abilities? Be prepared for a lot of flack and headache from the Nanny State, which will seek to force you and your child to “conform” to what it wants for the herds who swim with the mainstream, which usually means dumbing your child down to the level of the state’s lowest-common-denominator curriculum. Are you a self-starter or innovator who wants to make your workplace stand out from the competition? Chances are that you’ll be branded a “non-team-player” or “insubordinate” by your employer (the larger the organization you work for, the more conformity is usually demanded) and either demoted, isolated, or hounded into resignation, if not eventually fired. Talent and ability, after all, seldom ever have anything to do with advancement in today’s corporate world, where “playing by the rules” is god. Even if you worked alone as your own boss of your own business, not only the State, but every other shiftless, talentless special interest group with a grievance would seek to penalize you for not “sharing the wealth.” Finally, do you consider yourself a person of faith? If you are a Christ-follower, do you believe in the word of God as presented in the Scriptures and that Christ’s message as presented in the Gospels is the central tenet of the faith? If so, then you probably will have a hard time fitting into any organized congregation in America today. Most of these are far more concerned with the temporal political power their “faith” will bring them (not to mention the “dollar value” of incorporation as a Congregation) than they are in actually living the life Jesus prescribed. They are not terribly interested in either the message Christ left us, or in the Grand Canyon/Marianas Trench-sized gap between the words uttered by certain people in positions of secular power who claim to be Christ-followers and the deeds said people do that are transparently representative of anything but. In short, if “the collective” seeks to subvert either truth or your values to the interests of the whole for its own perverse ends, find a way to secede from the group to the greatest extent possible.

I suppose I could add other principles if I really tried, but I think these six encapsulate all of the core values that would make up any of the others. Put to the test, I think these will help put life’s trials and tribulations in perspective while leading to a healthier soul. We’ll see. I’ll check back in six months to a year to see how much better an adherence to these has made my life.