It was over a phone interview for a job that I was posed a very significant question. What was asked of me, and my subsequent thoughts afterwards, have since shown themselves to be far more important than any salary or position that could have been offered after our conversation. The question, in its eminent simplicity, is perhaps one of the most important questions that could possibly be asked of our society and to the individuals that comprise it: “What do you see as being the greatest threat(s) to liberty?”
After subsequent deliberation regarding this complicated and multi-dimensional question, I have observed a few threats in existence that are positioned as the adversaries to our concept of liberty and should be recognized with our utmost concern.
To begin this discourse, it is important to note that my initial answer to my interviewer’s question has expanded. Liberty is not just a political concept. Liberty is both a mindset and a lifestyle. I have read a fair amount on eastern philosophy, in particular the Tao Te Ching and a collection of Buddhist writings. Our happiness is deeply rooted with our liberty; They are both inextricably linked together.
To call ourselves libertarians is to assume that we have an unshakable duty to our fellow man. This assumption allows for the creation of a crucial vision; a vision portraying a world where we collectively work together to establish a society based on the firm foundation of principles and ideas. I believe there may be a quote in the Bible to describe a similar idea: Those who have sight, it has been gifted to them to shepherd those who do not.
I was once captivated by the glorious victories men have had in the game of politics. Yet, the gift of sight brings with it many unwanted curses. For those who can see, we are revealed to how brutal and violent this game is. Politics are like cigarettes: addicting and over the passage of time leave a black tar deep inside that doesn’t go away.
This tunnel we are in is dark, like the oblivion we look into when we continue to dance with the devil of politics. But for those who are able to recognize the intimate connection between liberty and happiness, which I believe a great deal of us libertarians have, we also see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We mustn’t meddle in the misery of the darkness, but venture towards the light. The greatest threat to liberty is the destructiveness that the darkness of politics has on our vision of the light. Politics is blinding. It brings all your focus on the clouds above. It curses as the rain pours down. It doesn’t see the seedlings grow below and the sun rising behind. Libertarians see the rebirth and libertarians are the rebirth. We are the ones who play in the puddles and get our shoes wet. We are the ones who watch the brilliant lightning as it paints the skies. As the sun awakes, and plants sprout after a night’s shower, we harvest and plot for the next rainfall to come.
You see, if one is equipped with the vision of peace, love, and liberty, it signifies that they have been given a tool of happiness. Why do we hide in the shadows of the dark tunnels? Politics brings fear and hate. It casts individuals and groups against one another. Despite the inherent darkness associated with politics, we libertarians must always remember that as we speak of our vision, let us not be held under water by the those who fear the rain. Smile and be happy. That is our responsibility. If we want to see the change we desire for the future, we must be that change right now.
Change does not mean voting for the right people to pass the right legislation. Let’s think for just a moment. Do we honestly want to place unwavering trust and reliance on others to safeguard our liberties? We must fight everyday for our freedoms, be it against an external force or within our own Government. Hell, we have a notion in our culture that “freedom isn’t free.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth. There is a section of the Tao which discusses the result of these conflicts. In translation, the Tao demonstrates the more one fights against a perceived adversary, the stronger the adversary becomes. In a case where we discuss politics with others who disagree with our philosophy, we should not argue or debate. We only push others further away in doing so.
The game of politics is no friend to liberty. It dilutes our message and tempts those who have a propensity to look away from the light. Each time we elect one of our own to pick up the pieces and make moves on the board, the further they are pulled into the game and away from the reality of liberty. Politics is not a place of compromise and never one of progress; at least not a path towards the light we see. So then the question must be asked: If we are the shepherds, with a message of liberty, why do we continue to wear a mask and play a game by which we will never reach our desired end?
In what we call the “Liberty Movement,” we cheer after campaign victories and when positive legislation is passed. Each time we do, we forget what freedom actually is. Wearing a mask to play politics has not only blinded us from seeing the light and the happiness we shepherds are responsible for spreading, but has also pulled us from our understanding of liberty. We have forgotten that we are already free; this is the greatest threat to liberty.
I pick up my crook, and move forth from politics. Forward towards the light, with a smile across my face. Guided by the vision of a peaceful and prosperous future, equipped with the positivity the light has given me. I glide.
Many things have come to bring meaning to my life. The Tao and the message of liberty are two of the multitude. Their message: “Be.” Because we are free to be anything we want to be.
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