Author: Oliver A.

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A Witness to the Fractioning Church

A Witness to the Fractioning Church

“What ever disunites man from God, also disunites man from man.” – Edmund Burke

Walking down the dark tree-lined path, I could see the illuminated porch light and the silhouettes of my wife and three children as they approached the old country home. Before my family could reach the front door, it swung open, and our hosts greeted them with warm embraces. We entered their home, settled in to begin supper, and said grace. Five minutes into the beautiful meal, the conversation turned to the topic of church. I mentioned how grateful I was for our elders’ decision not to enforce the government’s mandates surrounding COVID-19: Choosing instead to empower individuals to determine what was best for them. I was, however, completely unaware that one of our hosts opposed our church’s position. Within minutes, we found ourselves navigating through our opposing views, all the while trying our best to remain gracious. But my apprehension grew tenfold once we were told our church should just simply “obey.”

Many are calling life within the COVID-19 environment unprecedented. The imposed restrictions have aroused new tensions within the population, and naturally, those feelings extend to the church. This quill will explore Christian views regarding the appropriate degree to which the church should practice civil obedience. There will be frequent references to the bible as it contains the teachings committed Christians refer to when shaping their worldview. I will present the better-known passages used to support the Christian requirement for total civil obedience and accompany them with brief counterpoints for reflection. Subsequently, I will present several verses which bring into question the inherent goodness of our governing authorities before concluding with a call for church unity.

The Case For Obedience

To our dear friend’s credit, the call to civil obedience is indeed consistent with several passages of scripture and it would be disingenuous for anyone familiar with the bible to claim the absence of such instructions. One of the best-known passages comes from the Apostle Paul in Romans 13. Only seven verses long, this passage has had a lasting impact on the church’s view of our governing authorities. Romans 13:1-7 ESV reads:

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

As a stand-alone text, I admit this passage seems to provide clear and concise instructions pertaining to our discussion here. But therein lies the problem. These seven verses do not present a stand-alone text, though they are often treated as such. The books of the bible were not organized by chapter until roughly the 12th century. Let’s imagine no chapter break exists and refer back to Romans 12 to see what Paul has to say, leading up to chapter 13:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12.1-2)

And;

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” (Rom. 12.9-13)

Do these instructions complement the idea of total submission to worldly authorities or give us reason to consider the degree to which we should submit? It’s worthy of contemplation.

Another passage often employed when addressing this topic is found in 1 Peter 2. However, unlike Romans 13, 1 Peter 2 contains the calls to holiness and submission within the same chapter, providing a backdrop. The passage reads:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Pet. 2.9-17)

The requirement to be set apart from the world (v. 9-11) followed by instructions regarding submission to the authorities (v. 12-17) should stoke in us a curiosity to examine the relationship between them. Verse 12 explains why Christians should be upright participants in this world: To bear witness to the glory of God. If we begin reading at verse 13, we receive the commands without the knowledge of why we are instructed to do so. These reasons are important as they reveal God’s desire for our lives. As we know God, we can apply His character to the entirety of scripture, which further enriches our biblical studies.

The Case For Study

Another critical element to understanding scripture is identifying when there may be a requirement to apply historical or cultural context. To adopt a strictly literal interpretation of all scriptures is a mistake and considerable damage has been caused at the hands of misguided believers throughout history. At present, is the church carrying out Paul’s instructions found in 1 Corinthians 14:34 and forbidding women to speak in church? Mine certainly isn’t – context is important. Numerous studies exist which address Romans 13 and provide additional context and insights not found simply by reading the text. Additionally, both Paul and Peter’s writings fail to mention the degree of submission required when living under corrupt or immoral authorities, and both merely affirm that God has instituted those over us to punish evil and praise the good.

Arguably, governing authorities seldom function in accordance with God’s desire, which has prompted numerous believers to create additional resources on this topic for anyone who may be interested. The Libertarian Christian Institute, an organization I credit with having introduced me to libertarianism, has an entire resource page devoted to the study of Romans 13. AnarchoChristian, another website that greatly impacted my political reformation, also has numerous articles and podcasts related to this discussion.

The Case Against

Based on their overall reluctance to oppose government mandates, we can assume most modern churches lean on the preceding passages when forming their views on this topic. But do instructions and warnings regarding the authorities exist anywhere else in the remaining thirty-one thousand biblical scriptures? Of course they do. Let us look at a handful:

“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” (Ps. 146.3)


“Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression,”
(Isa. 10.1)


“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.” (Ps. 2.2-4)


“So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.”
(1 Sam. 8.10-17)

The Christian faith claims that scripture is written by man but inspired by God. The preceding verses demonstrate God’s reservations about the governing authorities and his repeated warnings surrounding them. Is it possible when Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 call for Christian submission, it is generally when those authorities act in accordance with God’s will: to praise good and punish evil? My personal views on the matter must by now, be abundantly clear. I am growing increasingly skeptical of modern-day governments. They reject God and illegitimately reach into many areas of our lives. So, in light of everything we have seen, how do we reconcile the church’s differing views considering that both sides draw their conclusions from the same holy text? Simple – we must choose to focus on something of far greater importance: Church unity.

The Call to Unity

The Apostle Paul has this to say about unification:

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1.10-13)

Later, while under house arrest in Rome, Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians:

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” (Eph. 4.1-5)

The church must remain unified. Naturally, that doesn’t mean it will agree on everything, but it must not fail to remember that Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ. Opinions surrounding current COVID-19 mandates have nothing to do with eternal salvation. Disagreements over the required degrees of submission to authorities must not present a stumbling block. Forgiveness and grace should abound when we are unified and fully submitted to Christ. Our hope should be in our eternal home, not in the outcome of some struggle to create heaven here on earth. Politics do play a role. They have direct implications on our existence as well as our ability to share the gospel. But the political sphere is imperfect because flawed human beings wield the instruments of government power. The state does not offer real hope.

Let us now travel back to that memorable evening with our dear friends. Desiring not to let the conversation spoil our time of fellowship, my wife and I surrendered our pride and redirected our energies towards remaining gracious. In the end, we had to agree to disagree. Our hosts witnessed our initial displeasure with being told we should obey. However, they also saw our desire to move away from those negative feelings. We were able to lay our differences to rest and enjoyed what ended up being a lovely evening. The following morning at church, in true humility, our friend approached my wife to assure us they had meant no harm by their comment and hoped they were still in good standing. Of course they were. In closing – searching the scriptures to determine if Christians should obey mask mandates won’t bring conclusiveness, but it will reveal a far greater truth; That Jesus died for us, He rose again, and those who believe in Him will gain everlasting life. Surely the church can unite around that.

Towards eternity,

OA

Woe Canada

Woe Canada

By Ollie Adamson

How you have strayed,
Having been led away from what once justified you.

For your dominion was planted in knowledge and truth.
You knew my ways and sought my counsel.

But now, your rulers chase after the wind,
Which blows eastwardly one day, westward the next.

Arrogance is your stumbling block,
It prevents you from growing in wisdom.

For she is not found in man’s progressive intellect,
But rather through lessons learned, through understanding man’s nature.

Can you offer up salvation?
Can you save a man from himself?

You promise milk, and offer your breast,
But where does your milk come from?

For, unlike the new mother,
Your supply comes from those you nurse.

Consider the things which lead to a joyful heart,
They go far beyond matters of provision.

Work and leisure, failure and success,
The freedom to experience them, this is the fullness of life.

Humble yourselves before me,
And before your people.

Acknowledge your limitations,
And do away with grandiosity.

For you are your brother’s keeper,
Only as far as your brother desires it.

My people belong to me,
Yet you have shown contempt for them.

When one desires to travel a different route,
You rain down like thunder and threaten to wash them away.

My heart weighs the group, next the individual; I lay them on either side of the beam,
And my scales lie in perfect counterbalance.

Do not threaten my children,
And expect to find a seat on my moral high ground.

Though sickness and death stir up fear,
Allow my people to be healthy in spirit.

Release my image-bearers from your grip,
I have written down your name, and I will surely remember.


When a Virus, the State, and Self-Ownership Collide

When a Virus, the State, and Self-Ownership Collide

“When we give government the power to make medical decisions for us, we in essence accept that the state owns our bodies.” – Ron Paul

There was cause for concern back in August when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated COVID-19 vaccinations would be mandatory. He later changed his tune by saying: “We can’t hold someone down and make them take it,” but added he strongly encouraged everyone to do so. We’ve had similar concerns in Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “Normality as it was before will not come back full-on until we get a vaccine for this [corona virus.]” His statement seems to imply the government expects 35M Canadians will voluntarily receive the vaccine. Surely the state must recognize the individual right to self-ownership. Left to wonder if and what future government mandates may look like, it may be prudent for concerned citizens to start preparing.

This quill’s intended purpose is not to weigh in on the benefits versus risks of vaccination programs as much discussion already exists on this topic. For those new to the idea that vaccinations may pose risks, Stefan M. Kløvning has written a valuable booklet on the subject, and I encourage everyone to explore it. This quill’s main objective is to flesh out potential strategies the government may employ in their attempts to administer the COVID-19 vaccine broadly and how we should respond. As an extension of individualism, we at the LQ hold that vaccinations should be voluntary. We base our position on the view that non-consensual medical treatment goes against the fundamental human right to life (or person) and self-ownership. I have covered the topic of natural rights in previous quills and encourage readers to go back and read them to complement the discussion at hand. 

Before exploring potential government approaches, a brief delve into self-ownership will benefit anyone who may be new to the term. One definition of self-ownership is: “The concept of property in one’s own person, expressed as the moral or natural right of a person to have bodily integrity and be the exclusive controller of one’s own body and life.” It is familiar to proponents of libertarianism, liberalism, and anarchism, and as mentioned in the preceding paragraph, it is consistent with the ideas of individualism. To reject this concept means to accept others can determine what is in the best interest of you and your body. Applying this idea to vaccinations may, upon first glance, seem somewhat overstated. Historically, there has been much trust put in recommendations from health authorities. But what if this trust were to erode (if it hasn’t already?) Who ultimately makes the decisions regarding what happens to our bodies?

A document issued by the United Nations and the World Health Organization entitled “The Right to Health” acknowledges the individual’s right to be free from non-consensual medical treatment. Many federal and local governments protect similar patient rights. Not surprisingly, these “rights” fail to protect citizens when governments deem mandatory vaccinations to be in the public’s best interest. Herein lies the problem. Clearly, from government responses to COVID-19, the vaccine will undoubtedly be viewed as a requirement to get us back to any semblance of normalcy. In Canada, the National Immunization Strategy objectives for vaccination rates range between 80-95%. Assuming similar targets are applied to the COVID-19 vaccine, governments will likely have a near-impossible chance of achieving the target rate through voluntary vaccination campaigns. A WebMD reader poll from this past summer revealed:

“Fewer than half of people plan to get a coronavirus vaccine in the first year it’s available, and an even smaller group — fewer than a third — say they’ll get it in the first 90 days… The poll of 1,000 readers finds many of them reluctant to take a potential COVID vaccine, even though public health experts have said it’s the best way to move past the pandemic. Just over 40% said they planned to get a vaccine, while 28% said they did not. Another 30% were unsure.”

Speaking to these results, John Whyte, the chief medical officer at WebMD, stated:

“If immunization rates are low, then we’re not going to achieve the level of herd immunity needed to protect us from this virus. How are we going to reopen if people aren’t getting the vaccine? We need a ‘Plan B,…”

Could “Plan B” involve mandated vaccines, and if so, how would that be implemented? The reader should remain open-minded as we explore the possibilities of two different coercive approaches.  

The first, likening itself to a doomsday account, could see governments deploy armed medical enforcement. State agents would be responsible for administering the vaccine as a matter of national interest. Willing recipients would report to designated sites, receive the vaccine, and be issued documentation proving they had complied. Non-compliant citizens would be deemed a threat to the state, rounded-up, and incarcerated to separate them from the rest of society. As a father, an additional fear would see the separation of minors from their parents in order to immunize children within non-compliant families. All of this may seem a step too far, but there have been several developments in recent months, which would have seemed inconceivable only one year ago. I don’t consider myself overly conspiracist, but I find it increasingly difficult to rule anything out these days. However, the state would be taking substantial risks enforcing vaccinations in this manner and would likely only succeed by marginalizing small numbers of non-compliers. At this point, authorities in the U.S. and Canada would be hard-pressed to attempt this approach while avoiding massive domestic instability as a result. 

The second and more plausible approach would be to incentivize those willing to receive the vaccinations voluntarily. Incentives would not increase existing benefits but rather keep our current freedom of movement intact. Documents issued upon vaccination would grant an individual access to restricted locations and services. Examples include air travel, public buildings, private businesses, government services, etc. Undecided individuals facing such a decision would be highly motivated to accept immunization and return to the comforts of their day to day lives. I have previously written about the barriers humans run into when living out their contrarian beliefs and referring back may again complement the current topic at hand. Monitored activities could remain accessible by substituting existing methods or as the result of innovations. Circumventing restricted access to grocery stores could be achieved by roadside pick-up or delivery, which is already in existence. Air travel, although highly impractical over long distances, could be replaced by automotive travel. Certain services could be offered remotely versus existing requirements to conduct them in-person. The lockdowns have already resulted in innovations within different sectors. There is reason to be hopeful that refusing the vaccine wouldn’t necessarily cut people off from our current way of life. The most significant area of concern is how non-compliance could play itself out in the workplace.

I’ve mentioned before that as a public servant, I rely on the state for my income. Ideally, this wouldn’t be the case, but it’s the situation I find myself in for the time being. I’m aware of what refusing a mandatory vaccination could cost my family and me. If the state implements mandatory vaccinations for government employees, logic follows that my refusal could terminate my employment with them, which is not an easy barrel to be looking down. On the other hand, private sector employers requiring their employees get vaccinated could offer alternatives such as working from home or wearing masks as a suitable compromise. I doubt the state would afford public sector employees such flexibility given that non-compliance threatens state authority.     

So how should we prepare? That’s an individual decision, but I believe people should be thinking about all of the potential scenarios and readying their mindsets accordingly. If you believe the vaccine will be safe and plan on receiving it, you likely won’t have experienced much apprehension while reading this quill. But if you want no part in a mandated vaccine, start considering the consequences of refusing it. Perhaps that means holding off from making any large financial decisions in the event non-compliance terminates your employment. Maybe those fearing the first scenario might begin drafting up off-grid plans and developing like-minded communities to navigate that outcome. One thing I’ve decided to do is make it as difficult as possible on vaccine administrators. Freedomtaker is a website (for our American readers) that contains links to several useful forms which can help deter administrators from quickly attaining their objectives. Many thanks go to our friend Don Wilson, leader of the BC Libertarian Party, for developing a non-consent form which fits within the Canadian context, and is available for download under the “resources” tab of our website. I don’t presume these documents to be legally binding, but they can be useful tools when asserting your non-compliant position. Additionally, knowing your rights can go a long way, and Canadian readers can find more information on patient rights here

As 2020 draws to an end, the future remains unclear, and 2021 will likely present many of the same challenges. The best we can do is to prepare for potential eventualities. Preparation will require some imagination, prayer (or reflection), and planning. The world is changing, and we must determine what kind of existence we hope to achieve during the years we are given. One of our past “Weekly Tokens” depicted several rolling hills with this simple caption, “it may be time to consider which one you’re willing to die on.” My sincerest prayer is that it never comes to this, knowing many have paid dearly while standing for their convictions. In closing, let me say, a world devoid of self-ownership is a world devoid of human dignity, and that, is a position I won’t be coming down from. 

Towards liberty,

OA

When All Else Fails

When All Else Fails

“In life, you can choose to cry about the b——- that happens to you or you can choose to laugh about it. I choose laughter.”
– Kevin Hart –

Libertarians can be a funny bunch, literally. Perhaps humour is embedded within every contrarian spirit. If true, there are likely very good reasons. Marginalized groups routinely encounter overwhelming odds when working to impact the world around them. Often, individuals expend tireless energy with little return which can be extremely frustrating. When deeply emotional human beings experience the onset of disillusionment, those emotions can manifest through anger, sadness or greater yet, depression. But for many libertarians, that energy often gets converted into humour. 

Grab a spoon and a tub of ice cream for this first bit. We’re going to review some numbers, and no – they were not pulled from Wikipedia. The Libertarian Party of Canada currently holds zero seats in both the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate. Given, Canadian Senators are appointed rather than elected and no Libertarian Party members are currently sitting in the House, the latter is no surprise. Big zero. In the United States, the Libertarian Party holds one seat in the House of Representatives (due to a change in party affiliation) and zero in the Senate. Looking only at elected positions, the political wing of libertarianism at the federal level in North America is batting 1 for 873. So what are we to do with this reality? Do we become disgruntled, or disenchanted, with our worldview and give up? Not likely. To borrow a line from Jeopardy, “I’ll take ‘Laugh’ for a thousand, Alex!”

Past studies have shown benefits of laughter include: improvements in physical health, mental relaxation, lowered blood pressure and pain relief. I’ve even read somewhere that laughter may have positive effects on boosting immunity (though I’m too lazy to find the link). Maybe instead of COVID lockdowns, we should just laugh it off – it wouldn’t cost much. But I digress. Others speak to the positive effects of laughter within relationships. Hara Marano from “Psychology Today” explains:

“levity can defuse anger and anxiety, and in so doing it can pave the path to intimacy.”

Humans relate intimately with the greater world around them. It is important to find satisfaction with regards to our place in the world. How then do libertarians learn to stay positive while working to advance a cause so slow in coming? Simple. They use irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc. If you found that to read like a definition, give yourself a pat on the back. That is the definition of satire. Satirists often criticize personalities and viewpoints they believe to be flawed.

A further delve into this style of comedy could prove useful but I usually aim for a thousand words when writing so I’ll keep this brief. One form of satire is hyperbole, an exaggerated statement not intended to be taken literally. Sadly many struggle with this recognition. It’s not clear if the struggle is due to declining IQs, hyper-sensitivity, or both but the struggle is real. Please pray for those individuals. If you don’t know where to find them, they’re usually out trying to cancel parts of culture. The other form of satire is irony, the backbone of what most refer to as sarcasm. Irony is expressing oneself using language which signals the opposite of what you’re thinking. If you have never employed either, you’re definitely not a real libertarian. 

These satirical techniques can be expressed using several different methods. One common expression is through the use of memes. Any libertarian with a Twitter or Facebook account will tell you the social media communities rely heavily on the use of memes to convey opinions or even just to let off steam. Libertarians in America have even vowed to “Meme Jo Jorgensen into the White House” (LP presidential candidate) due to near mainstream media blackout. 

Parody, another commonly used form of comedy, uses imitation while deliberately exaggerating the subject for comedic effect. A well-known program exemplifying this method is “Saturday Night Live.” It debuted in 1975 and, for many years, delivered premier parodistic skits. Microsoft Word argues with me that “parodistic” isn’t a word. But what does Billy G. know anyhow? We’ve briefly covered several commonly used forms of humour often employed without giving a second thought. Imagine if we weren’t free to express ourselves in this way. Sadly, in some parts of the world, no such imagining is required.

So let us be grateful for the freedoms we still enjoy, especially the freedom to criticize both our officials and their policies when we believe those in authority to be misguided. Let us continue to fight for a freer future while encouraging one another to act as mouthpieces for liberty. And, although at times we may turn on one another (withholding all apparent mercies) let us remember the commonalities of those wanting to dramatically reduce government with those wishing to abolish it altogether. I may have just lost the anarchists. But, yes – libertarians, anarchists and contrarians at large are indeed a funny bunch. Let’s keep it that way. Without the healing effects of laughter, many are left with nothing more than hurt, disappointment, and disillusionment. As for me the choice is clear. Turning to laughter can’t really be avoided as it’s in my nature – I am Canadian after all.

Towards liberty (and jocularity),

OA

Libertarianism Is About Letting Go

Libertarianism Is About Letting Go

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler –

Libertarian philosophy encompasses many things. It values peace, personal responsibility and free markets among others. But before adopting these, people must first let go of their long held positions. Consider the monkey trap. Hunters place food in a container and fasten the container to an immovable object. The opening to access the food is wide enough to allow the monkey to slide their hand through. However, once the monkey grabs hold of the food (making a fist in the process) they are no longer able to pull their hand out. Despite having the option to let go of the food in order to escape, the monkey refuses and is eventually captured. The monkey’s freedom could have been realized by releasing the fruit. What do humans need to release to achieve freedom?

The first is falsehoods. Our ideas shape our worldview. We come about those ideas through varied experiences, interactions, and oftentimes through study, the majority of which takes place at school. Recent data shows 92% of Canadian and 82% of American K-12 students currently attend government schools, definitely the majority. The reality of government schooling: Both the schools and the teachers are government funded, the textbooks are government approved, and the curriculum is aimed at satisfying the government mandated testing criteria. Therefore, the school system may hold biases when presenting ideas pertaining to the role of government. Generation after generation are now accepting government endorsed curriculums with limited exposure to alternative theories and points of view. Given this bias, what other means are available to present our youth with alternative views on history, science, economics, and the realities of big government? Brace yourself! Parents. Parents are ultimately responsible for their children’s education. They can have an impact by choosing to homeschool or simply supplementing what is being taught. A great resource I recommend is “The Tuttle Twins” series of books by Connor Boyack. The series covers several topics from a non-curricular viewpoint. Some rely wholeheartedly on the government school system to educate their children. In the absence of personal responsibility, falsehoods taught in the classroom will continue to shape the views of our future generations.

Next up is the attitude of indifference. It has been said before awareness is most beneficial when translated into action. As a recovered alcoholic, knowing I had a drinking problem did nothing for me until I took steps towards recovery. Indifference keeps us in an inebriated state, preventing us from taking the necessary steps towards new life. In discovering new truths (whether economic, political, or philosophical) people should strive to apply them, challenging their worldview. If inconsistencies or incompatibilities exist, tension should be generated within the individual, forcing them to revisit the conflicting ideas. This is the boiling point. Does the individual embark on changing their old views or do they side with indifference to protect their notions of security and comfort? By keeping indifference at bay, we can learn to live more authentically. 

Perhaps this doesn’t happen at the broader community level but rather in individual lives. There are still benefits. When humans live by their set values, they often feel more at peace, reducing conflict. Individuals may also choose to be indifferent when they are minimally affected by the policies falsehoods create. As a white male living in a rural middle class community, having never experienced it myself, I could turn a blind eye to police brutality. Additionally, I could shrug off the ethical implications of forced taxation if I determine I am net benefitting from the services received at the expense of others. Self-centeredness, the root of such indifference, is something I try to resist. Self-interest is essential. But ensuring others are free to take care of their own self-interests is of equal importance in ensuring collective security. But what to say to the individual that isn’t indifferent, who wants to see change yet does nothing? What holds them back?

Fear. Publicly demonstrating contrarian views often comes with consequences. Ideas other than those considered mainstream threaten the current order. Speaking out on social media can result in being banned from those platforms. Worse yet, we now see people being arrested for organizing protests using Facebook’s platform. Current cancel culture applies pressure on employers to rid employees who speak against or don’t follow mainstream ideas. The fear of losing one’s income is a highly effective weapon against contrarian or “radical” thought. Another, is the fear of losing certain comforts, or at least initially. What if the size of government was vastly reduced and many of the provided services ceased? At least initially, our standard of living could be negatively impacted. For many, this may prove too much to endure. But what of the sacrifices if we let things continue? Unfortunately, by focusing on what could potentially be lost, we ignore what could be gained. Free market minded people are hopeful private enterprise and voluntary actions would bridge the gap in adjustments to our living standards. Perhaps the fear of diminishing comforts should be replaced with the fear of diminishing freedoms.

Dreaming of how life could be different is easy. Walking through a refiner’s fire to get there is not. It is beyond plausible hardships could befall us if the current structure were to change. But as already mentioned, to focus on the seen without giving due attention to the unseen is a mistake. I believe increasing individual freedom and personal responsibility leads to improved emotional and mental health. Our ailing system of big government breeds apathy, creating individual reliance on the state. Libertarianism offers an antidote far too many will never experience. It’s high time we abandon the “monkey see, monkey do” mentality, and be willing to let go of that which entraps us. 

Towards liberty,

OA

Why I Left The Armed Forces

Why I Left The Armed Forces

While on vacation during the summer of 2018, I began reading the book “Called to Freedom” which explores the intersection of Christian faith and political freedom. I had recently ranked highly in a competition which would have sent me back to full-time university studies to complete my degree. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) would have covered my tuition and books, and maintained my salary for the full duration. My Chain of Command was grooming me for an eventual commission and the long career they hoped would come with it. Things looked promising.

As I began reading that book I became increasingly aware I was avoiding numerous internal conflicts which had been brewing for several years. Many assume when a Libertarian decides to leave the military, it must be the result of adopting the anti-war position. But I can’t say that was my primary motivator. There’s an adage I’ve heard throughout the years, “with increasing security comes decreasing freedom.” Therein lies the tension.

I joined the military soon after the birth of our first child. My wife and I had recently moved across the country to a rural setting closer to her family and had naively assumed I would find adequate employment. I found work but there were no guaranteed hours. Growing our family wouldn’t be possible given my income, so after much prayer, we decided I would join the Air Force. We hoped we would secure a posting to the nearby Air Force Base which would allow us to stay in the immediate area. Fortunately, after completing several months of initial training away from my family, we received confirmation that we would indeed stay put. Our rural lifestyle marched on.

Over the next three years, we added two more children and began homeschooling our eldest. A common tagline in CAF literature is “supporting families.” Within the ranks however, members often joked that if the Chain of Command wanted us to have a family, they would have issued us one! Slightly exaggerative, but you get the point. It was around this time, four years into my service, I started to feel as though I wasn’t living authentically. Something was wrong.

I had long recognized I was having a hard time reconciling my Christian beliefs with the oath sworn to a country whose policies went against certain biblical teachings. At that time, I still considered myself politically conservative and interpreted Christian political thought through the lens of Romans 13. Ugh. For those unfamiliar with the Book of Romans, it is the part of the bible many Christians point to when justifying the inherent goodness of the state. It was here where the book I initially mentioned was able to break serious ground for me, ground firmly laid since becoming a Christian ten years earlier. The second chapter of the book, written by Jason Hughey, completely dismantled my previous understanding of the relationship between church and state. For the first time in a decade I was politically homeless – but that wouldn’t last.

After finishing the book, I began seriously contemplating how my family and I were measuring up in the area of personal liberty. I soon realized we weren’t scoring well on numerous fronts, the first being my inability to ultimately control my comings and goings. With military service comes the reality that at any moment they can send you away from your family. They snap, you heel. Imagine making future plans knowing full well that your employer can easily bring them to ruin. It takes a toll. On average, personnel are uprooted every two to six years depending on their trade. For us, every year that passed only brought us closer to the place we called home. There was a reason we chose it to begin with. 

Additionally, my occupation left us perpetually uncertain of our financial future due to the possibility of future relocations. Not surprisingly, the cost of living varies depending on the specific province and municipality we live in. Income tax and sales tax rates differ from one Canadian province to the next just as the cost of housing varies from one urban setting to the next. To try and offset these variables the Canadian Government created the Post Living Differential (PLD) which is a taxable benefit added to a member’s income if they are posted in a qualifying area. This CBC article does an adequate job of detailing the benefit’s flaws. I remember asking myself the following question “Why would someone who values personal freedom want to spend twenty five years moving in and out of different housing markets, potentially unable to build equity, while having to constantly readjust their family’s budget and lifestyle? As a single income family, we had chosen a region where, although we weren’t rich, we could make a good life for ourselves. How could I allow someone else to undo that?”

Of importance in all this, we are a single income family as a consequence of choosing to homeschool our children. Does the military have vested interest in supporting this pursuit? Not likely. Given my financial trade and being bilingual, we would have surely encountered several moves to high cost urban centres. This would have likely forced us to cease homeschooling so my wife could create a second income. Homeschooling is a gift. It allows us to present concepts from different angles while crafting delivery styles which best suit each of our children’s individual learning styles. This investment in our children is one of the highest ways in which we can show our devotion to them. I could never leave this part of our family dynamic vulnerable to the arbitrary posting decisions made by individuals with little regard for our values.    

Coming back to where we began, our week long family vacation came to an end. Inspired by the ideas and arguments found in that book, my wife and I decided it was time to step out and trust our instincts. Personal freedom was too important. Within a couple months we purchased a home based on unknown future earnings from an unknown future job. We moved into the home and I notified my superiors of my intent to release in ten months’ time. Many people, including some relatives, had their doubts. But we knew it was worth risking. I recall telling countless people that even if it brought us to financial ruin, we would never regret making efforts to increase the level of autonomy over our own lives. A future free from constant relocation, periodic time away from each other, and never knowing if our homeschooling efforts would be brought to an end was beckoning us.

At the time of writing this, it has been one year since my last day in uniform. I am pleased to report I was able to find employment and we are thankful to God it came with a pay raise. Our roots continue to grow, which has brought an added level of security to our family. Any future changes we now make will be at our discretion, not someone else’s. Now what could possibly be wrong with that?

Towards liberty,

OA