Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sharpening the saw for liberty

In recent discussions, the questions has been raised as to the best actions a person living in the United States can take to improve our society.

For those with a bent to liberty, it is important to remember that sharpening the saw is as important as using it. (Thanks to Stephen Covey).

One of the advocates for freedom whose writings have been influential on me is Leonard Read, and in particular, his book "Elements of Libertarian Leadership". I highly recommend this book to any who would make themselves more effective in the cause of liberty in this world. In his closing remarks, Read says:

Those who have been liberated can and do help one another — the educable aiding the educable! That we need more liberated individuals is self-evident; for among the non-liberated are, unquestionably, some of the greatest potential writers, thinkers, talkers of the freedom philosophy. But what can any of us do about it? How can we liberate them?

At the outset, it might be well to consider some of our limitations. The individual not yet liberated is no more educable as to the free market, private property, limited government philosophy than you or I are educable on subjects in which we have no interest. Thus, it is patently absurd to scold or rant at them, to be impatient, to regard them as not bright, to try poking our ideas down their necks. Such tactics will only send them scurrying.

The best counsel is to take it easy. First, we must recognize that most of the individuals among our personal contacts... have no aptitudes whatever for this subject... Work naturally; make freely available such insights as you possess, but do not entertain any notions about setting someone else straight. Go only where called, but qualify to be called.

The few within your orbit who are susceptible to the freedom philosophy will find you out. We need never worry about that, only about our own qualifications. In this manner we will liberate as many minds as will open to our own keys.

Some will complain that this approach is too slow, but I think that it is the best hope for the long run.

It is somewhat akin to the history lesson of the conquest of Jericho by the Israelites. As the Israelites marched round the walls of Jericho the first twelve times, there was no outward evidence of any progress being made toward their goal. But the foundation was being laid for the last time around, and when the victory came, it was dramatic.

The battle for more liberty is first won inwardly, in the minds of men, and only later is it visible outwardly.

"It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." ~ Samuel Adams

"The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable." ~ H.L. Mencken

" One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas." ~ Victor Hugo