Don’t tread on your neighbor

Most libertarians are interested in being free. Many work hard to disentangle themselves from the state and live as freely as they can. St. Paul told 1st-century Christian slaves that if they could obtain their freedom–unlikely as that was–they should go for it. We, like the early Christians, are not likely to get the state off our backs anytime soon.

Graphic showing coiled snake captioned Don't Tread on your neighbor  - Catholic Libertarian

Realistically, most of us cannot control the way that others treat us, so in the second edition of Free is Beautiful, I did not want to over-emphasize the ways that we could be free. Christian libertarianism is not so much about being left alone–not so much “Don’t tread on me”— as it is about respect for others. Consent to aggression against one’s neighbors is collaboration in one another’s persecution. C.S. Lewis reminds us why we must be serious in respecting and loving our neighbor:

[R]emember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.

All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.

Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, (1942)

Live free if you can, but it matters less whether we break our own chains, so long as we can refuse to forge our neighbors’. Even if we labor under the boot of the state, we can still decide that no one will labor under ours.

~ Randy England

The expanded and updated edition of Free is Beautiful: Why Catholics should be libertarian is now available in paperback and Kindle versions at Amazon.com.

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