In polite society, we never discuss religion or politics.
We talk about the weather and our health. What use would it be to share your opinion, when everybody knows people have already made up their minds?
The election is almost over. Many people have already voted absentee. We have to mend fences and learn to live with the consequences of an election that is bound to turn out badly.
That’s what I am hearing from all my friends.
But isn’t it important to keep fighting until the very end? Shouldn’t we strive to have an impact? And isn’t it right that we should use our store of words in order to do so?
Sharing our unpopular political opinions is absolutely crucial to the success of representative forms of government. If we don’t let them know how we feel, then many people will assume that everybody thinks as they do, or that anybody who is good and decent thinks just as they have been taught they should.
I know so many Democrats who think only illiterates could disagree with them. I know so many Republicans who think only the “godless” could vote against their candidate. Even among my libertarian friends, there are so many who assume that anyone who does not see things exactly their way must be beneath contempt.
These people hurl insults at the opposition and stop up their ears and block those who disagree — and we all lose the opportunity to share our opinions and to find common ground that must be there somewhere under all the insults.
If we do not find a way to share our opinions without insulting others, then so many people will never know what we think.
They will not know that their friends, their neighbors and people they respect can differ in important and material ways from everything they have been taught right. They will not even begin to question what their favorite mainstream media channel is feeding them.
They will not listen to that nagging voice in their own mind that is already trying to let them know something is wrong. To the extent that people feel it impossible to speak out unpopular opinions and to try to persuade others of their merits, the only recourse left for those silenced would be to go from words to deeds.
On my Facebook the other day, I posted this status:
People say it’s pointless to talk about politics, and we should just do something. But in our political system we are allowed to talk about it, and we are not allowed to “do something”. That’s why posting your opinion is okay, but burning down the opposition headquarters is not okay.
Many people liked that status, indicating their agreement. One person asked: “Those are the only two choices?” In essence, I believe that they are, though not in the sense that it has to be the opposition political party’s headquarters that you burn down. It could be closest Federal building, or the police station where somebody is unlawfully detained, or TSA headquarters or the IRS. There are only two choices.
There are words, and then there are deeds.
Words are peaceful. Deeds mean war. And we want to make sure that we exhaust all peaceful avenues before we move on to war. Which means that causing a little discomfort among our acquaintances by sharing an unpopular opinion is the least we can do, if we are fighting for liberty. If we can’t be bothered to do even that, then we are already slaves.
My friend who disagreed pointed me to a website where he believed a whole range of civic involvement was listed, which for some reason did not include burning down any buildings or resorting to any violence.
- looking for information in newspapers, magazines, and reference materials and judging its accuracy
- voting in local, state, and national elections
- participating in a political discussion
- trying to persuade someone to vote a certain way
- signing a petition
- wearing a button or putting a sticker on the car
- writing letters to elected representatives
- contributing money to a party or candidate
- attending meetings to gain information, discuss issues, or lend support
- campaigning for a candidate
- lobbying for laws that are of special interest
- demonstrating through marches, boycotts, sit-ins, or other forms of protest
- serving as a juror
- running for office
- holding public office
- serving the country through military or other service
- disobeying laws and taking the consequences to demonstrate that a law or policy is unjust
Every single one of the things on this list consists of dealing in words, rather than deeds — even the last one. Looking for information in newspapers and books is not going to change the information. It is a preliminary step before taking any other action.
Voting, as long as we only have one vote, will not change the outcome of any election. It is only by persuading others that we can get a majority.
Persuading involves words. Signing a petition — words. Wearing a button — more words. Sticker on a car — words. Writing letters — more words. Campaigning, lobbying, running for office and even serving in office all require the use of more words, as long as you don’t take the law into your own hands. Even legislators are expected to persuade other legislators with words to vote ideas into law.
Laws themselves consist entirely of words.
It’s people with drawn guns pointed at citizens who make laws into deeds. Serving your country through the military and other services may seem like deeds, but if the goal is to change the law, then you would have to rebel against your commanders in order for that “service” to turn into an actual political deed. So that website recommended no deeds for changing political reality. The only deeds it allowed were of a passive or compliant nature. No surprise there.
What about disobeying a law? Isn’t that a deed?
It is not a deed that changes anything, if you take the consequences that the establishment metes out and nobody notices. Being a tax protester will not change the system if you just end up in prison or dead at the hands of the authorities.
That kind of protest is about as futile as casting one single vote in a billion vote election.
It would change the system only to the extent that you are able to persuade enough others to join you so that the authorities suffered a military setback. And let’s face it, if everybody joined us in standing up to the government at the same time, then the government itself would collapse.
It’s only because we are not united that any form of government coercion works. Violence would not be necessary if enough people stood up together with us.
That’s why words are important. That’s why you must share your opinions with others. Otherwise, even your bravest and most lonely form of self-expression will be wasted.
There are words, and then there are deeds. But to change words into effective deeds, we must touch the minds of our fellow citizens. They need to know how we feel. Chances are they feel the same but are too scared to say so. Help them to find their voice and their courage. Dare to share your opinion!