Quit Poking the Bars   Leave a comment

If I were to synopsize the libertarian point of view into one sentence it would be “Leave the other guy alone unless he’s interfering with your life in a substantive way.”

Yeah, simple, right?

Apparently not because in 21st century America only about 10 percent of the population seems able to grasp the concept of “it does me no harm if it doesn’t pick my pocket or break my leg.”

Don’t misunderstand me here. Most libertarians will debate almost any topic from dawn to dusk. We’ll stick to our principles and refuse to change our opinion because the vast majority of us became libertarians because we believe in principles. That we’ve thought out the logical conclusions of our principles means something to us and we hope reasonable debate will introduce progressives and conservatives to a less authoritarian way of structuring society.

Unfortunately, almost all progressives and a majority of conservatives cannot grasp the concept of “leave the other guy alone.” In fact, it tends to render them apoplectic when we suggest they don’t need to control the other guy.

For a whole host of topics, Americans are currently locked in a deadly unyielding battle for the soul of our society. We’re willing to tear the country asunder to “win” the ideological war. We’re no longer listening to one another, but we flail away like apes flinging dung at the bars of our cages, determined that we’ll at least out-screech those we don’t agree with.

There are a lot of people I disagree with and a lot of topics I have strong feelings about. Going from a macro view to a more granular view — let’s just look at how this works. This article is not about theology. It’s about human interaction and I’m using theology and morality as examples.

I absolutely believe God exists and spoke to us through the Bible. I absolutely believe God is the source of all things good and that when He says in His Book we shouldn’t hurt ourselves in specific ways, we should listen. We human beings, with our finite lives, are just not smarter than the Creator of the Universe. That works out to my absolute belief that God’s moral guidance is right and any moral stance that disagrees with God is wrong. Mine, yours, the guy down the street — if we’re not agreeing with God, we’re morally wrong.

Ooo, see how bossy I am! I want to control everyone and force them to live their lives the way I want them to.

No, I don’t.

And — here’s something you’ll find in the Bible — neither does God. He created Mankind with free will and let Adam and Eve make their own choices. He even provided them the means to make those choices via a tree He planted in Eden and told them not to touch because if they did, it would fundamentally change their relationship with Him. The tree wasn’t magical. The change came about because of their actions. God warned them of the consequences of choosing to disobey Him, then He let them make their own decisions and face those consequences.

Why did He? God wanted Adam and Eve to obey Him voluntarily. He showed that by providing Mankind with the means to reverse the consequences of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, but He doesn’t force us to take Him up on the deal. He permits us the dignity of making our own choices and receiving the consequences of our decisions.

Now we move from the example back to the point of the article.

My moral stance is absolute — for me — and it includes the libertarian guideline of ‘leave the other guy alone” and let him/her live in dignity with the consequences of his own moral decisions. Sure, I talk to people, I debate with them about the advantages of following God’s plans, and I pray that God will put other people in their lives who will say the same things. And, no, you can’t talk me out of what I believe because I have worked my way through faith from presuppositional analysis to reasonable conclusion and I’m not changing my mind about what I am 99 percent certain is true. If that insults, enrages or otherwise frustrates you that’s your problem. I hope you come to believe what I believe voluntarily. I won’t force you. However, I will resist any coercion or force meant to change my mind or silence me about what I believe, and yes, there is a lot of societal pressure these days to convert to secularism or at least be silent on the topic.

Moral coercion goes both (or all) ways. Some people would like to control alcohol, cannabis or meat consumption. Others would like to control who/what we can have sex with, who we can enter into a marriage contract with, or how many children we’re allowed to have or whether we must send them to public school or can homeschool them, and whether we can introduce them to our nutty personal philosophies. There are those who feel zealous about drinking mega-sized sodas, smoking cigarettes, wearing baggy pants, gun ownership, who we vote for, where we go to church or if we go at all, whether we drive a “gas-guzzling” SUV, an “eco-friendly” electric hybrid or take public transportation, whether we live in an apartment, a suburban house or a tiny home,… and the list goes on and on. Moral coercion is all around us. It doesn’t matter on which side of the moral divide you’re on — all sides are guilty of trying to force or coerce the other guy to do life whichever way they think is best.

It’s led us to a stage of societal development where we resemble apes flinging crap at the walls of our cages and we wonder why. I recognize the real issue is that there are cages at all, but a good start would be for the morality nannies to stop poking each other through the bars. Stop trying to force the other guy to do it your way. Give him the dignity of his choices and maybe he’ll give you the dignity of yours.


Lela Markham is a multi-genre author and blogger, born-again Christian, libertarian Alaskan with diverse interests.

Posted January 15, 2020 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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