Harry Browne wrote a piece 14 years ago entitled “A Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions“. He wrote 14 resolutions on helping the cause of liberty. There were a few points in particular that stuck out to me. While I have known they are good resolutions, it is not always easy to keep them. It is good to remind yourself every now and then.
For number 2, he said, “I resolve to keep from being drawn into arguments or debates. My purpose is to inspire people to want liberty – not to prove that they’re wrong.”
I recently read something similar by Doug Casey. He said he doesn’t like to get into debates with people. He doesn’t mind discussions where people can think about things and learn things.
I admit that I get sucked into this more often than I’d like. I don’t think I can ever completely stop because sometimes I feel it is necessary to defend myself and my ideas. But I do need to remind myself that there is no point in arguing with someone, particularly friends and family, especially when it will not change the person’s mind. I resolve that I will try to take these discussions and instead of having arguments and debates, that I will try to pose thought-provoking questions that places the burden on the other person.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. It is important to realize that sometimes you have to introduce the water to the horse slowly and gently.
I do make certain exceptions with this though. If you are on the radio with Sean Hannity or in some other public forum where you have a large audience, then I think it is acceptable to debate the person and be strong. Just don’t be rude, or you and your position will look bad. In this scenario, you are not trying to convince the person you are debating. You are trying to convince the audience.
Another point made by Harry Browne that stuck out at me was number 7. He said, “I resolve to acknowledge my good fortune in having been born an American. Any plan for improvement must begin with a recognition of the good things we have. To speak only of America’s defects will make me a tiresome crank.”
I know this is a problem for a lot of libertarians. They always talk about the bad things. They don’t offer the benefits of liberty enough (other points that Harry Browne made). They complain about America, when they really mean the U.S. government. They don’t acknowledge the benefits of living in America, even today.
If you are having trouble finding positives, I will offer a few quick ones. America is still the best, or one of the best, places in the world when it comes to free speech, freedom of religion, free press, gun ownership, and individuality. In particular, that last item is important. While this may have faded somewhat, there is still a big streak of rugged individualism in the average American. There is also no shame in being an entrepreneur and being successful in America. A lot of Americans take these things for granted because they haven’t seen enough of the rest of the world.
I would add one more resolution for libertarians to Harry Browne’s list. While it is important for libertarians to educate others on the benefits of liberty, don’t forget about yourself. If you are going to be a spokesman for the cause of liberty, you should never stop learning. You should be continually reading, writing, watching videos, or just sitting there and thinking about liberty and various issues. Read more on issues that you aren’t as comfortable or familiar with. Try to learn something new every day, even if it is not directly related to the cause of liberty.
I hope everyone has a happy, prosperous, and free 2013.