I spent the formative years of my life in a Lutheran grade school. I was dragged to church every weekend by my parents until I was 18, at which point I moved out of the house. During that time, I was told repeatedly that I should love others as I love myself . Of course, this decree came from statists who weren’t afraid to use violence on children to obtain their compliance. I recall instances of corporal punishment being dished out by the Principal on numerous occasions. I have to wonder just how much he loved the children under his care as he was beating them.
The rampant hypocrisy of the church nearly squashed the spirituality out of me completely. If beatings and regimented obedience were “loving others as you love yourself”, I wanted no part of it. I did not want to waste my time worshiping a God that put tyrants here to rule over me. The Christian descriptions of the afterlife also sounded incredibly boring and mundane. An eternal life of singing praises to God… Thanks, but no thanks. I have things to learn, do and become. I don’t even like singing. Of course, forget having any fun. Drinking, smoking, gambling, drugs, obnoxious music, obnoxious comics, etc.. etc.. were a big no no. If you are enjoying yourself, you might as well cast yourself into a pit of fire right now.
It is odd that studying something which, at first glance, is the complete opposite of religious doctrine has rekindled a spark of spirituality in me. Not of the religious kind, but of the real spiritual kind. When one learns Austrian School economics, they aren’t just learning about economic systems, they are learning how the application of the golden rule is the ultimate basis of humanity’s prosperity. This realization has profoundly effected my views of spirituality in several ways.
First, it has undone the damage the church did to me. The church taught the golden rule, but seemingly violated it at every turn. The lessons were a mish-mash of a brutal old testament God, who pretty much hated everyone, mixed with lessons from the gospel which were corrupted into nothing more than obedience lessons. However, the life of Christ was taught to me, and I did learn the philosophy he espoused. Austrian School economics has proven to me that Christ’s philosophy of loving your neighbor as yourself is the basis of eliminating all suffering on this planet. Before understanding this, it seemed quite rational to hate those who oppress rather than feel sorry for them.
I confess I am far from perfect in this regard, which is why I’m writing this post. The more I learn Austrian School economics, the more hate and anger I feel toward those who are breaking the golden rule. I can see the unseen. I can see all the things that could be, but are not. I can understand why people are starving in certain portions of the world, while we in the US take their resources in exchange for pretty pieces of paper we ran off a printing press. I can see the hundreds of thousands of cars, refrigerators, and computers that don’t exist because the State wanted another super carrier to oppress people with.
There is one thing that moderates the hate. I have come to understand that anger and hate are not creative forces. Anger and hate lead to wars and killing. Killing anyone is a waste of resources since any person has the capacity to engage in productive activities that serve his fellow man. Harming a person causes similar waste, as they must recover before they can begin producing again.
Consider if I had the power to simply vaporize everyone who was not an anarcho-capitalist. I would probably wipe out 99% of the Earth’s population, leaving us with the perfect landscape to begin society anew, but utterly destroying any chance I may have at living a decent life. The world would revert back to the stone ages because there would simply not be enough people or knowledge to reproduce all things modern society has given us.
The only way to improve society from its present condition is to convince others that obeying the golden rule is in their best interest. Waging wars of rebellion or hating the oppressors does not bring about more prosperity, it only destroys it. Nor is hate a convincing force. Hating statists isn’t going to win over any converts. There is only one logical path to improving humanity’s condition, and it does not involve hate or violence.
In light of this, I will take a few minutes of my time to feel sympathy for those whom I hate, and I hope you will join me. To do this, I imagine the fear that causes them to worship the State. Fear of not having a safety net. Fear of not having a daddy to make sure they don’t put bad things in their mouth. Fear of not having a mommy to make sure they don’t eat tainted food. Fear of personal responsibility. In essence, the statist is like a child. One does not hate children because they are greedy or fearful.
Sympathy flows freely when one understands the statist is nothing but a child in an adult body. They are simply unenlightened and need to be educated. And just like children, there will be many who simply refuse to learn their lessons the easy way. But it is not for me or you to impose “the hard way” – that is something the market will naturally do on its own. Yes, we are caught in the middle of their childish temper tantrums and violence, but that doesn’t change the response we should have. The logical path to prosperity doesn’t allow for it.
Setting the example and extending sympathy to the unenlightened will sow the seeds of their future development. I don’t think I could have come to this understanding without the Austrian School’s teachings, which really are the same teachings of Christ, Buddha, Gandhi and other philosophers who espouse the non-aggression principle.
Hopefully someday I can stop hating altogether. Perhaps I will even come to love Al Gore *gag*. Yes Al, some day I will love you too. I might need longer than 5 minutes of meditation for that though.
I’m working on it.