Monday, April 9, 2012

Don't be a Warrior

Do not think of yourself as a warrior or imagine that the world is filled with enemies. It is too easy for the young soldier to declare war on the wrong target - it is surprisingly difficult to choose the right ones. Many intelligent and honest people find themselves on opposite sides of pitched battles. Frequently they even switch sides as they grow older, fighting ferociously for the position which their younger selves abhored.  

Even if you win your war, you may find that the evils caused by the excess of some thing give way to new problems caused by its deficit. 

Furthermore, the warrior is not an effective agent of change. The very nature of war is to divide people into allies and foes. An attack generates its own enemies, polarizing neutral bystanders into opposing camps. 

Rather than be a warrior, be a builder. Tell a story that appeals to the universal values cherished by human hearts. Synthesize opposing viewpoints into a new worldview that unites former enemies. A fresh story has no enemies and it spreads without resistance, like a fire through dry grass.

In all the teachings of Jesus, he spared hardly a word for the pagan religion of Rome that his religion would replace. He was not on a mission to tear down the old world, but to build a new one. His story of hope, love, and deliverance appealed to Romans surrounded by a brutal and capricious reality. As a builder, he was far more effective than any warrior. The humane, egalitarian ethic introduced by Jesus is still a potent force in the world 2,000 years later. 

That is why my I no longer think of my political activity in martial terms like a "warrior for liberty" or a "patriot". I grow tired of the eternal war between libertarian, socialist, progressive, and conservative. As I mature, I recognized the good motives and valid points of my former enemies. Instead of fighting old wars I'm focusing on building new viewpoints which can help people from all political ideologies create a better world. 

My current attempt is Structuralism. I used to call it "Structural Libertarianism", but I realized that the structuralist ideas are useful for everyone, not just libertarians. By using the term "libertarian" I imported the old conflicts as if I'm so used to fighting that I forgot how to live in peacetime. 


  1. This may just be the most intelligent block of text I've read so far this decade. THANK YOU.

  2. I like it! I strive to speak in terms of what I’m for rather than what I’m against. I strive not to see people as enemies or opponents, but merely people with different agendas with respect to one or more issues. The people I agree with today I’ll disagree with tomorrow, and vice versa.

    That said, let me violate what I’ve just said and note that I don’t like war. War-talk – actual or metaphorical -- is the hallmark of the demagogue; my defenses go up when I hear it. I’m wary of people who define themselves in terms of what they are not, or what they’re against. I’m wary of people who regard themselves as virtuous based on what they REFRAIN from doing.

    That said: What do you make of discussions of Satan? A literal understanding of Satan suggests humans are subject the objects of an intelligent, predatory force – and a warlike response may be appropriate. A metaphorical view suggests humans are the subject to weaknesses of varying kinds, and the appropriate response is probably not very war-like.

    For example, I greatly enjoy C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters -- understood as a discussion about how self-delusion and cognitive biases can undermine even the best intentions. But more often, I find discussions of Satan to reflect the same old dichotomistic, with-us-or-against us thinking that I find so constricting.

    I suspect that different views might justify different policies. I favor the second view.