Will the Ideal Freedom-Doer Please Stand Up?
Rage is emotional rocket fuel. Handled carefully, it may sustain one's psyche for a long and challenging trajectory: handled carelessly, it's volatile and destructive, likely to "go boom" at any time. I've accumulated a store of rage over several decades, and I've discovered that writing allows me not only to exhaust my rage but also to consciously transform it. In a process of emotional alchemy, compressed rage fuels my writing and it magically comes out as something closer to love. Writing serves my own selfish interests and I sincerely hope that other people find my work interesting -- but writing demonstrates as well as anything else that it's impossible to please everybody. Writing transforms my emotional waste to mental or spiritual energy -- I experience liberation as a result. I can't invest a wealth of experience or healthy emotion toward freedom that I haven't gained.
I have a nagging suspicion that what precocious little someone like myself can do to help the freedom zeitgeist gain momentum won't ever be enough for some folks. Perhaps my time would be better spent in any of 100 other ways, and perhaps not -- who's to say? As much as I value opinions and feedback from other people, I won't try to live up to anyone else's ideas of how a freedom fighter should take action: if we can't pick individual battles and choose suitable weapons what sort of freedom are freedom fighters fighting for? If I grow discouraged and put down my pen, will I necessarily take up a sword or a rifle? I'd rather persist with my weapon of choice and stay in the battle than surrender to a sense of futility because I can't "walk the walk" ... whose walk am I walking?
Some of the people who've given me the greatest appreciation for freedom over the years weren't necessarily freedom activists at all. Freedom has many flavors: artistic, sexual, intellectual, philosophical, religious, scientific, and medical freedoms are all important aspects of liberty. J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, Led Zeppelin, Blue Oyster Cult, Robert Heinlein, Albert Einstein, Friedrich Nietzsche, William Blake, Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary (and lots of others, but you get the idea) all spent far more time lighting my youthful radar screen than Tom Paine, Patrick Henry, Lysander Spooner, or Thomas Jefferson. I learned to love freedom mostly from people who weren't out to preach any gospel of liberty or convert minds to their way of thinking ... they had their own way of "Doing Freedom." For that matter, I had my own way of coming around to it.
I've been thinking about what the "perfect freedom activist" would look like according to various irreconcilable perspectives, and what the heck -- I needed a good laugh. Perhaps you could use a laugh too, so here goes.
The Ideal Freedom Activist...
a) Doesn't vote: it only empowers "them the politicians" at the expense of we the people
a) Runs for office frequently, and resents people who choose to abstain from politics
a) Works within the system to fight it or uplift it
a) Supports school vouchers as a treacherous step in the right direction
a) Intends to move to New Hampshire with the Free State Project
a) Appeals to religious instincts to counteract secularist dominance by the state
Maybe the world would be a freer place if Wilbur and Orville Wright had run a printing press to promote free speech instead of experimenting with aircraft. Perhaps Bill Gates should have begun a secession movement instead of creating Windows. Albert Einstein might have run for President, instead of leaving a legacy for science. John Stossel might have been a terrific Attorney General instead of pursuing journalism. Ayn Rand could have launched an Objectivist Party. Ron Paul might have chosen to write novels. Dave Barry would have made an amazing political speechwriter: think of the possibilities.
Wherever you are, and whatever you can do to help freedom along, it's worth the effort as far as I'm concerned. Don't let anyone tell you you're not doing enough or you're wasting your time on the wrong thing. Who are they to tell you what you should be doing?
I do know how tragically easy it is to act without taking the unforeseen consequences into account, especially when it comes to political activism. I'm still repenting many of the misguided things I've done for the sake of doing the right thing... confessions of a former liberal -- sort of anyway. My own dear Mom suspects I'm a "conservative" now, Goddess bless her! At one time I suspected as much too, but I was swiftly relieved of that notion.
I'm thankful for Physical Graffiti and Agents of Fortune. I'm grateful for Lord of The Rings, Tom Sawyer, Beyond Good and Evil, Stranger In A Strange Land, and overnight mail. Heck, I'm genuinely grateful for Microsoft Windows -- most of the time. More than anything, I'm delighted that I still hear my own offbeat but persistent drummer drumming above the maddening background din of existence. Nothing beats that, and hearing it keeps me going... and going...