“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
How much do you change?
We all read about how things are wrong. We all reach conclusions as to how things ought to be fixed. We all complain that the war in Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya is wrong, that there’s too much inequality, too much abuse, that taxes are too high or that we use too much gasoline or that things just aren’t right. I write furiously, preaching to a choir of like-minded individualists who almost always agree with me. You read these writings.
But how much do any of us do about the troubles that the world faces? We might seek to adjust our lives and better ourselves within the existing system, to guarantee a future for our children or our friends. We might go so far as to write snide and condescending comments on the internet, to draw attention to the great evils our ideological rivals would perpetrate if given the opportunity, or to pay lip service to our support for some idea or another. One or two of us might volunteer a portion of our time to the causes we support, and spend a double portion making others aware of those causes and our support for them.
But how many of us have affected any change in the past month? How many of us have done anything more substantial than talk to our friends about Anarchism, or write something intelligent on the internet? When’s the last time you engaged in a charitable activity, the last time you really did something right, without being told to do so by the government?
Maybe you’re alright. Maybe you helped that neighbor you’ve never met move yesterday, or you give blood whenever you’re eligible, or you volunteer at the farmers’ market and teach math to disadvantaged Schnauzers in small-town Wisconsin. I know I’m not; the last productive thing I did was to hold the door for a fellow patron of a convenience store, and that’s certainly not noteworthy.
I encourage you to go out of your way to be the change you wish to see in the world next week. I don’t mean to raise awareness or to bring other people into the anti-violence fold; I mean to really and truly behave as you think all people should. I want us all to stand up and give lie to the notion that Anarchists and Libertarians are selfish pricks who don’t want to contribute anything. I want you to be able to say, next time someone asks whether you did anything to live up to your libertarian ideals, that you’ve been a shining beacon of voluntary cooperation. I want you to make the rest of us seem downright selfish and lazy by comparison. I hope you do so.