When I was in elementary school, my dad and I would discuss conspiracy theories and politics- something we both enjoyed. While my dad was my greatest influence, he always reminded me to do my own research and make up my own mind. My dad hated the State, politicians and political parties. So, you can imagine my surprise when one day my dad came to me and said, “Mijo, I want to show you this guy who is running for president. His name is Ron Paul. I know I told you we can’t trust politicians, but he’s not like those other guys. Look him up and then tell me what you think.”
So, there I was, about 10 or 11 years old, searching Ron Paul on youtube. The first video I watched was the famous “Giuliani moment”. After that, I watched a couple more and agreed with everything I heard from Dr. Paul. My dad’s biggest reason for supporting Paul was his outspoken criticism of the Federal Reserve. His criticisms of American foreign policy proved to be my biggest reason for support. I remember thinking how obviously great his ideas sounded. At this time, I wasn’t aware of all the different political ideologies out there. I just knew that what Dr. Paul was saying made so much sense to me and figured it would to everyone else. So, I started conversations with, mostly older, people about the ideas of Liberty. Soon, I realized that these ideas were not as popular as I thought. Sure, everyone supports “liberty” until you say- “End the Fed”, “Bring the troops home”, “Legalize all drugs.” Once you get into the nitty gritty of what Liberty really means, you will quickly realize it is not as well received as you may have once believed.
From that moment on, I’ve tried my best to “sell” Liberty to my friends, acquaintances, school mates etc. Have I been successful in many of these cases? Sure. Most of my success comes from folks who know and trust me or those who have no political knowledge whatsoever. As I got a little older, I became more active in politics. Since highschool, I’ve been attending city council meetings and local Libertarian meetings- which has ultimately led to me being on the executive committee board for the Libertarian Party of Orange County. I made it one of my life goals to spread Liberty and convert as many people as possible. Social media posts, attending council meetings, joining my local Libertarian Party were all vehicles I’ve used to try and persuade folks to believe in Liberty.
Of course, preaching the message of Liberty while living in California- 30 miles away from Los Angeles- comes with difficulties one may not encounter while preaching Liberty in a place like Texas or Florida.(not to say it’s a cakewalk there) Nevertheless, I always found the struggle to be worth it. I will say, in the beginning of my venture to spread Liberty, I was dumbfounded by the amount of people who disagree with the message. As a matter of fact, I still am.Yet, I chose to continue the struggle. Then, I listened to a Tom Woods podcast episode in which Tom was absent and Dave Smith was the guest host for the episode. To be transparent, I am not a huge fan of either. It is nothing personal; I just do not find Tom to be very inspiring or Dave to be the current best Liberty messenger as many of his supporters will claim- and that’s ok. You’re not supposed to be inspired by everyone and I just happen to not be inspired by those two. Anyways, as host, Dave had Jeff Deist, president of the great Ludwig Von Mises Institute, on the show. I cannot remember why, but I decided to listen to it. Deist had mentioned the idea that perhaps our values are not as universal as we thought they were. He uses the example of talking about property rights to a Zen Buddhist and watching them as they look at you like you’re crazy. “So many things we think are universal aren’t”, he said to Dave Smith. I have heard fewer statements that are more truthful.
It led me to reflecting on my time as a student at a university here in California and the material and values being taught. As a political science major, I was exposed to my professors’ and classmates’ political and life values, almost all of which contradicted my own. When they would say housing is a universal human right, I would disagree. When I would say, the right to defend yourself with whatever tool you see fit is a universal human right, they would disagree. I had to realize that billions of people do not see the world the way I do and they NEVER will. There will always be die- hard communists, nazis, conservatives and liberals among others. There will always be people who just do not care or as Deist put it, find libertarianism to be “flat-out crazy. ”
I would be lying if I said I had the blueprint to what this “separation” would look like; I don’t. I’m also not saying that spreading the word of Liberty is the worst thing in the world. I do think, however, it can’t be the bag we put all of our fruit in. Will I continue to try and convert folks to libertarianism? Sure. Will it be on the scale that I had once strived for? Absolutely not. I would also like to mention that I’m not sure how Deist’s ideas develop on this topic nor am I claiming that the conclusion I’ve reached from his comments is the conclusion that he has found himself at.
Regardless of how you feel about separation or persuasion, you cannot deny the cold hard fact that billions of people just do not share your worldview. Individuals are just that- individuals. From individuals, we have culture, religion, nations- all producing their own set of “universal values.” In a country of 330 million people, the United States and “its citizens” can’t even agree on what “our” values should be or look like. Why is that? The United States is a melting pot of people and cultures. We are among the most diverse in the world- to a fault. We cannot agree on anything. People are different, cultures are different and it’s weird, naive and ignorant to act as if they are not. This is not an indictment of any cultures; this is an observation of reality.
It’s time for us to realize that our values do not belong to everyone and everyone does not belong to our values. AND THAT’S OK. The only real way to experience and achieve Liberty in our lifetime is by separation, not persuasion. I know this will rub some folks the wrong way- it already has to some that I’ve told. “Those are white supremacist talking points” to which I say, oh brother. If you ever get a chance to look at me, you’ll see I’m as brown as they come. I couldn’t care less about the race of those who share the same values as me. If you care about race, that’s your business, not mine. Why should we try to convince communists, socialists, liberals or conservatives of our values? What happened to leading by example? If our values are so great, we should live them out with others who agree with us. If we are successful, we can only hope that others will take notice and follow along. If they don’t, oh well. It’s time to realize that we are not Jesus and we are not preaching the Gospel. Funny enough, there are folks who don’t like Jesus or His message either; who do we think we are? By what God do we libertarians declare our values to be universal?