“Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.” Proverbs 12:1 (KJV).
As I read and study, I often marvel at the minds and lives of those ancient writers and philosophers whom even now, through the gift of communication and words, you and I have the blessing of knowing what they thought and believed. Is it not wonderful to read the words of those who came so before us whether ancient or modern such as Epictetus, Confucius, St. Thomas Aquinas, Frederic Bastiat, Albert Schweitzer, Henry David Thoreau, or Thomas Merton? The list of those who have given me much to ponder is so long, as I bet it is for you, and in it I count those from philosophy, religion, and politics.
It is a delight to learn from others from the past, just as it is delightful to learn from people now who know more than I do in certain areas. We are all teachers and learners, and it is this many forget. Every person you know can be a teacher for you, just as you may be for them. It takes but a willingness to learn from all others. And the beauty, too, is that we actually learn what we teach as the truth we know is reinforced as we share it. This is a humbling realization.
It reminds me of that phrase, “We’re all ignorant, just on different subjects.” It serves as a good reminder that each and every person you meet has a unique story which has brought them to this place in life. To begin to judge (which none of us can do as we certainly haven’t the knowledge to do so in regards to any other person, why I don’t even think we can judge ourselves, for in doing so we often become confused and may even continue to pass harsh judgment and guilt upon ourselves for past mistakes not even recognizing the reasons we chose wrongly, not recognizing or even giving ourselves credit for the good we may have also done, when in the light of God and his fullness, we have been forgiven and it is as if we had never erred.)
Often, however, people are so caught up on the differences they perceive between themselves and others that they put up a blockade to receiving that which they could otherwise learn . If one looks at another through eyes of condemnation and judgment, one’s heart is certainly not open to receiving the lessons this unique individual has to share. I perceive every encounter, even with strangers whom I may simply interact with momentarily (as in a store or a few brief words passing on the sidewalk) as all moments for love to be expressed. Likewise, if one looks at themselves thus, in judgment for past deeds, they too build a barrier between themselves and others prohibiting themselves from sharing experiences whose lessons may be of great aid to others in their development.
Humility & learning
Humility, recognizing that as different as we may seem, we are the same allows one to look at all others through the eyes of love, in essence through the sight with which God sees us. But in Him there is total knowledge of us, and that is something none of us will ever have about any other. But the awareness that all are here because God wills us to be here stands to remind us that none is higher than another. Yes, some are more knowledgeable, some have achieved more in the world, some may have more worldly possessions than others, but none of those things compare with the reality that “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23, KJV).
I believe that to truly see others correctly, and to truly view the real world, requires realizing that all is because God wills its existence. Accepting that, how then can we presume to ever judge another or anything? It is not our place to do so.
I know many readers may not share my religious belief, but I think many of you who value truth do share with me the realization or recognition that we all have made mistakes in life, why then should any of us presume to judge any other? Once we rid ourselves of judging others, we open ourselves up to really learning so much and rapidly.
I’ve been thinking about my life, all the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve known. It’s a mighty lot each of us have gone through in our lives, and as I said, it is this we should always keep in mind when we consider others. We know not what experiences have made them the way they are at this moment. But what we do know, if even we look at only our own lives as an example, to express love to another is always the right thing to do. Love heals, it provides opportunity for choose again.
Commitment to truth/love
Love does not mean the ignoring and thereby condoning of evil someone does against themselves or others, neither does love mean accepting those who choose not to love (but who predominately choose fear instead to guide their choices in life) into close association (or any association) in our lives. But it does mean never allowing our emotionalism (which is based upon fear) to direct any actions of hate upon another. It may mean stopping the evil others wish to perpetrate upon others, or it may require for our own well being and sanity stopping all association with those who wish to victimize us with lies, deceit and manipulation. It may require courage to expose lies so that suffering can be eased.
For to passively accept commissions of any evil is to cooperate with it. Whether participating directly or not, to approve thereof or remain silent, is to give consent.
Commitment to truth, to love, does not come easy in a world that believes love is impossible. It is not a passive activity, but one which engages your whole being – for once your spirit chooses it, your mind, heart and soul are used to implement it. It does require strength to stand up for what is right in a world where so many take the easy (and often worldly rewarding) path of forsaking their conscience for what they perceive as some benefit.
Whatever form it takes, being committed to truth, to love, requires a willingness to view all as equals (thus not judging them on any scale of hierarchy), but allowing only those who share core values to become personally a part of your life. Trying to work with those whose fundamental basis is that of fear is a major mistake. One can readily share ideas, perceptions, and experiences with all, but only those who choose commitment truth can you actually join with.
Politically, these realizations shape not only my views on issues but also direct where or how I choose to be involved in sharing what I have learned. As I look back on various political activities in my life, I see that truth has been a guiding force. I was always seeking, and even when I was greatly mistaken (as least as I view it now) in my perceptions, I always had a willingness to listen to others (primarily through reading).
That was how I discovered libertarianism, at a time in my life when I felt so politically homeless, disillusioned with my previous political affiliations, I literally sought out reading about numerous political ideologies and approaches because I knew that where/what I had previously been associated with didn’t work and was wrong. It’s like creating a work of art, a drawing, a musical score, or even a piece of prose, you are personally compelled, driven, to keep at it till it’s right and you only know it is right when it happens – till then you just know it isn’t complete even though you’re not yet aware of what will make it so. But when it occurs, when it resonates, there is indescribable joy.
That is how I feel about my finding of and embracing of libertarianism…and it has created in a deep desire to learn and know, to read and listen, to grow and share. It is the only political belief consistent with my spiritual beliefs. It is the only political belief system consistent with love. In it, I found no inconsistency, no immorality, no forcing upon others to conform to what another (or even myself) thinks to be “right.” It really entails absolute freedom – respect for oneself and others.
After all, the “problems” or “crises” facing mankind today are really nothing new. Sure, they may take “new” forms in that they are presented in different scenarios and even technologies, but the real problem is not of any recent development, it is only of the human heart. We are faced with crises of our own making, and rather than take responsibility for ourselves (and admit our own weaknesses) people often seek to look outside themselves not only for others to blame and but also others to solve such problems.
Take the war on drugs in this country. On a recent radio talk show on a 50,000-watt station, there was a discussion of the drug war and the host pondered aloud what role personal responsibility might play in it. I called in sharing my opposition to the drug war entirely. (The question posed to the audience seemed to equate “personal responsibility” with the government’s role in keeping youth safe from dangers of drugs). The violence and suffering, I explained, and even the addictions to far more harmful (but cheaper) substances now than in years past, is caused by the criminalization itself. I even shared with them about a proposed resolution I had read about in which some members of the city council in El Paso, Texas were trying to stop (or at least discuss ending) the federal government from enforcing its federal drug war in an effort to curb violence. Discussion and debate on the legalization/decriminalization issue by a city council such as El Paso shows that those in the midst of it are not looking to more law but less. This was not because they thought drug addiction was good, but because they know drug laws and their enforcement are harmful to the community. It is the prohibition itself which makes the situation of high costs and subsequent violence.
The suffering, I explained ever so briefly, is due to the criminalization of drugs. And the suffering of addiction is an area for the family, the church, the community – not government – to address. Laws, I said, already exist to protect us from those who would use violence in service to their drug habit or for any other reason, we don’t need laws criminalizing a personal behavior. On the contrary, criminalization does not help anyone move from away from addiction. Alas, in about two hours of discussion on the show, mine was the only voice which opposed the government intervening in the matter. Others called in subsequently talking about the pain drugs cause to families and that stricter laws and government-funded help was the solution.
Were these callers callous and uncaring? No. They were compassionate but ill informed, and in being so, let their ignorance lead them to believe force and laws should be used to make others live as they choose.
Choose compassion, not arrogance
To those who sincerely empathize with the suffering of others, recognize that the only action which both respects free will and which is truly loving is to take actions yourself to help situations which your gifts can benefit. You must not fall into the trap of thinking that you have any superior moral authority justifying you to force others to abide by your ethics, morality, or compassion.
Spiritually one must take accord of one’s own actions in life, no other person on earth can do that for you nor you for them. You alone, whatever path you choose, will reap consequences for your actions. Denial of this is delusional, but nonetheless it will come to pass. The right to exercise your freedom in itself requires willing and ready acceptance of whatever results your choices may bring. Recognizing this free will in all others is just as necessary, even it means seeing them suffer consequences for their behavior.
Political ideology or philosophy, law, and thereby society must be consistent with the truth of this or, as we see generation after generation continues in crisis after crisis simply because people as individuals and as a group seek to choose for themselves and simultaneously (and hypocritically) want to choose for others, while escaping consequences for their choices when said results are not pleasant. I can’t think of any “crisis” or “problem” that doesn’t fall into that category.
Thus, at the most fundamental level of how you live your life day to day, if you feel something is not “just” in this society, look not to make laws which will make it “right” by supposedly helping some at the expense of others (even if those others have more), but instead make it “right” by how you choose to live and how you relate to people in need. For example, choose tolerance if you wish in your behavior and associations with those who differ from you, but force not others to behave the same as you. Give of yourself, but force not others to give. Abstain from behaviors you deem unhealthy or immoral, but do not attempt to arrogantly force others to abide by how you live.
Dutiful adherence to laws and rules is meaningless because it’s void of spirit, void of free will. It’s only value is where such laws or rules are themselves respectful of and meant only to ensure or protect the intrinsic rights of all from those who would infringe upon them using violence or fraud. As such, law must never arrogantly (though it often has) deviate into governing what should be the free choice of any other to live as they so choose as long as their actions harm no other.
One’s internal authority, conscience, is by far the greatest guide for one’s behavior not any external law. So free yourself from those designs to “make” things “right” through force or the threat of force which is what government is, and let your life be one of simply giving what you have to any person, persons, or cause. If you see a need, let your loving compassion or mercy guide as to how best help. If you so choose, share what you have learned and give what you have been given.
The Bible states to each individual, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it,” Proverbs 3:27, KJV. But no where does it state that you should force others to give as you choose or that you should force others to live as you do.
To respect the free will of all is to respect your own, and that I believe is living in true humility…or in other words, it’s living in freedom.