James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, April 13, 2009

Is Courage Overrated?

When injustice and long trains of abuses mount, many people at least ponder whether or not it's high time to just shoot the bastards. It is not surprising that the oppressors - who are far worse in almost every way than was King George and probably know it- might suspect that the most principled and vocal of the oppressed might fight back. Hence last month's MIAC debacle.

And there indeed are such murmurs here and there. I get a few in my inbox, and assume that most of them are FBI undercover agents trying to sting a radical. But while I know it's possible to improve the world by sacrificing one's life for a good cause or by writing inspirational stuff from prison, my instincts are to favor life and liberty, thank you. Courage and "self-sacrifice" should be avoided except when absolutely necessary.

Stand up and fight when some jerk slaps a girl; don't stand up and risk a broken jaw just because he calls you a nasty name. Pick your battles. Throw yourself in front of a bus to save the life of a child; don't throw yourself in front of a bus to make a political statement. If I leave the earth in premature, violent fashion, I'd much rather do so while defending someone's life rather than fighting for an abstract principle.

Indeed, the logic of libertarianism seems inclined against drastic measures such as law-breaking and revolution. If you can evade taxes, or make profits in a prohibited but non-violent activity and get away with it, good for you, but I, along with most people, am probably not savvy enough to succeed. At that point, the dilemma for me is, do I do it merely out of protest? Just to make a point? Even if I might go to jail?

Sorry. Jail's not an option.

What libertarians want is a world free from aggression and coercion - a world where individuals aren't forced into one course instead of another because of the prospect of death or jail. Our position should be that freedom is free. That is, freedom is our natural condition and has no cost.

It is also our natural (animal) instinct to cling to life and to avoid losses. While we may admire those who've sacrificed their lives on behalf of others, the world would be a happier place if people were never placed in that position. We shouldn't have to fight for or sacrifice for freedom. The world we want is one where the dilemma of taking or avoiding the courageous path is not imposed on people.

So I'm not one to romanticize or fantasize about violent struggle. I don't want to be remembered as a hero or a martyr. I would rather buy time, live another day, and make a positive imprint while living.

When my number is up, my number is up. I'm not butting in to the front of the line.

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