Of Society, Labels and Individual Liberty
In my gleeful ignorance of the deeper definitions pertaining to the categorical ideologies in the political spectrum, I have found what may be considered a contradiction to our crusade for individual liberty. In my opinion, this contradiction is quite disturbing for it lends itself to hypocrisy. If we are to build a coalition with the individuals of different "groups", then it may be wise to focus on the principles of the individual rather than the group as a whole as they may apply to said individual. Otherwise, we reduce ourselves to that of mere judgment for our fellow man and therefore, propagate the schism that will be the demise of our campaign for liberty. Let me explain.
Often times, while on the battlefield proclaiming liberty and approached by a visitor, one of the first questions I hear is, "What group do you belong to?" or "Are you this, that or the other?" or some question of affiliation. I believe, according to human nature, this to be the question the person is truly asking, "How can I sum you up?" I make it my practice to respond by saying, "I am an individual fighting for liberty!" or the like. After an awkward pause saturated in the questioners bewildered expression, the focus then becomes on what that actually means.
The doors of the mind have been opened for a specific issue.
My experience has shown me to avoid answering these types of questions in the manner the interviewer hopes, or what I believe the question implies, which is easy because it renders my response as core truth in place of the broader scope of the stereotype. Of course, this prediction is situational, not based in my own judgment but based in the intent non-verbally communicated - i.e. body language, facial expressions, vocal tone, etc. - by the individual posing the question. If one allows the summation to occur, it is my belief that more time is wasted defending one's stance as opposed to the sharing of ideas and the growth that that entails. Once classified and the positing that ensues, the focal point then becomes the dissuasion of one's beliefs according that "system's" set of rules instead of the learning process of one's specific fundamental values and beliefs. Guilty until proven innocent.
On the other side of the coin, this has taught me to refrain from fully understanding whatever a political classification may be. If you were to ask me what it means to be, say, a Liberal, I would have nothing more than an educated guess as to what this signifies. I do not want to know. Not because I don't care, but because, for me, it doesn't matter. In this manner, I can focus on the many facets of the individual. What beliefs they have; Why they believe it so; What our similarities and differences may be; Etc. When coming in to contact with others, it is vital in our pursuit of individual liberty, as difficult as this is to define, to learn the specifics of who people are as an individual despite certain beliefs they have that adhere to a certain label.
In my eyes, it is especially appalling to hear statements such as, "Those Neo-Cons..." or "I refuse to attend this event because they are..." or "You can't speak with people that are...!" They reek of judgment but more so they deny the individual their right to their own opinion. According to our fight for individual liberty, do they not then have the right to their own beliefs regardless if they fall in line with ours? If we deny them this, do we not in essence disregard individual liberty altogether? Personally, I do not want to destroy the integrity of this pursuit by focusing on our differences. There are far too many similarities in humanity to be burdened by bumping heads over such a low percentage.
Does this mean we should sacrifice our own cause in the process? Absolutely not! We have found, or are seeking, the virtues bestowed to us by the God of nature. While humanity is complex, these basic principles offered as basic guidelines, for example, by the founders in the Constitution, in most religious texts and in the CFL mission statement, are simple in nature. Free will so long as it does not harm your fellow man. Period. They are not political. They are not given unto you by another being. They are not a right declared by a piece of paper. They are not the property of a government to be rationed back to us. They are that of the indigenous power that has been instilled to every human being across the planet at the time of inception.
Everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs and it is not our job to package them in to a box then define them as such. We are to live according to the principles based in the gift of natural law. We are to refer to it whenever we make laws. We are to ponder it with every decision. We are to praise it whenever we encounter those with different ideas. We are to humbly become it in the hopes that others will want what we have. We are to lead by example. In this the seed is planted.
Well then, how does one allow someone their opinion, an 'individual liberty', on issues that directly contradict this indigenous power? For example, should we wage war to promote Democracy? To us, we as thinking individuals who have stumbled upon common sense with regards to such a matter, believe it to be a simple answer; NO! Philosophically speaking, the question in itself is a contradiction let alone the fact it contradicts the foundation of which we base our principles.
For the more subtler questions, the honest answer is, not that I am pretending to have all the answers, "I do not yet know!" But, I would venture to guess that focusing on the stereotype attached to someone who believes these contradictions, or at least those that appear as such, to be true would get me nowhere. In fact, it will more than likely drive them away from the truths we so desperately cling to. Even worse, we have made the target of our endeavors the group as a whole as opposed to tackling this specific issue with the individual. We have thrust the debate from being about an individual philosophy that can change with time, care, eloquence and knowledge to a socialized, collaborative modus operandi of a group vs. that of another.
Liberal vs. Conservative. Left vs. Right. Democrat vs. Republican. FOX vs. CNN. Broadcast vs. Internet. Us against Them.
Where does individual liberty factor in to these debates? How does one expect anything to be achieved in this manner? How do these arguments tie in to the greater picture?
Let us take it a step further.
There many labels in the realm of politics, applied to a particular philosophy or a standard set of practices, - Progressive, Populist, Neo-Con, Conservative, Liberal, Libertarian, Democrat, Republican, Etc., and the list goes on and on ad infinitum - whether self proclaimed or used descriptively by another person, that are irrelevant to our pursuit. The social norms in any group, culture or ethnicity make up only a fraction of an individual's character or behavior within the societal structure. It does not define them. Conversely, the personality, ethics, character, beliefs or behaviors of an individual does not define the societal structure.
Populists share beliefs with Progressives. Progressives share beliefs with Liberals. Liberals share beliefs with Conservatives. Conservatives share beliefs with Neo-Cons. And so on until we come full circle. We all share in natural law, of which Campaign For Liberty is firmly planted. We mustn’t fall prey to a sense of “Pluralistic Ignorance,” the incorrect belief that one's private attitudes, judgments or behavior are different from others. I feel most of us innately share these philosophies on some level but at this point, what separates us is simply the courage to stand up for them. Furthermore, we cannot allow ourselves to be victimized by "False Consensus," the incorrect belief that one represents the majority when one is actually a minority. We cannot allow our arrogance to pretend that we know all of the answers. It would be wise to remember that at whatever stage of growth we may find ourselves, we are still in the learning process. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.
The Campaign for Liberty movement, alongside many differentiating perspectives in the freedom movement, has made astronomical head way in an extremely short time span but, our numbers are, relatively speaking, more scarce then one may believe. However, the massive paradigm shift that is in process as you read this, has been achieved by many individuals working in their own manner, for their own reasons according to their own set of values, beliefs, ethics and behaviors. Would you rather reel them in, assist them in finding the roots of mankind and plant them in solid ground or push them away only to discredit our own cause? In a friend’s words from the school of Neuro-Linguistic Programming; Pace and lead.
Consider thyself in meekness.
My own process has been quite evolutionary from when I first began traversing this path of liberty. From the outset, I was an anger-driven, fringe-radical-activist that slowly blossomed - well, more accurately, still blossoming - as a greater understanding for the cause has matured and been nurtured. In the past, at anytime I may have been adjudicated guilty of any one of these political labels, and I am certain a label exists for me today. I didn't like it then and I do not like it now. My job is not to follow in the footsteps of those that seek ill will by slight of tongue but to bless others with the fruits of my labor. Condemning another for what I may have once seen fit is merely slapping myself in the face while stabbing individual liberty in the back. We may not always agree but the Campaign For Liberty platform has one major asset, a firm foundation of principle backed by Natural Law. In my eyes, others are just in the process of acquiring this understanding. Let us do nothing to usurp or hinder the process of either.
First and foremost, in order to achieve harmony, or some sense if assemblage in spite of where we disagree, we must focus on our similarities and live according to our indigenous power. Do this, and I can guarantee you that one-day we may be surprised, by the most overt, recalcitrant critic of our principles asking us to tell the story of why we believe what we believe. This is the point where minds are swayed by beginning to reap what your example has sewn and therein lays the essence for which we strive. In the political sphere - and I am sure this is also true of others - Ron Paul is the greatest example of this. Consistently glued to his integrity and principle on every subject, he has gone from being ignored to an eccentric oddity in politics to a humble defender of liberty with millions across the globe clinging to his every word. And, it only took 30 or so years.
We are commanded to love thy neighbor but this does not mean we have to love what they do or believe. Tolerance, respect and responsibility is our destiny and living according to our own free will without it being at the expense of, or impeding one another’s "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Individual Liberty may not be achieved unless "We the People" act in tandem, zeroing in on the learning of ourselves by delving to the inner most core of every human being, ourselves included. View each individual as a reflection of one's self. I believe here, we shall find the same indigenous power we have all been granted; Here, we shall find that we, in essence, are the same; Here, we will see the natural rights for all mankind are synonymous.
Some may say this ideal is "Socialist!" or "Collectivist!" or "......" Then it stands to question, how does one define Individual Liberty? How does one define Free Will?" Have you dug deep enough to understand the values at the core of these core principles? Are we pursuing the same thing for different reasons or do we have the same reason to pursue different things? We all have our own path but what is the destination? Is liberty the freedom to act or the absence of coercion? Or both? Or neither? Will free-will only incite chaos or bring us together as a cohesive whole? And, if we can not define the essence of Individual Liberty, can it be achieved?
Philosophy aside, how does Natural Law define your Individual Liberty and what separates this from what defines you?
Your patriot at arms,