Too often I will see threads online where the substance of someone’s argument isn’t what is being discussed, but the person and their beliefs. At a time when the movement continues to grow, why are we focusing on what someone believes or doesn’t? Why do we feel it is our place to call them out for their most personal decisions, especially in regards to their religious beliefs? This is the type of thing that keeps those on the fence from coming into our yard.
A little tact will go quite a long way in making friends and influencing people. Condemning and criticizing those of certain beliefs is the last thing our movement needs. The whole point of political work and activism is to build bridges – not to burn them. How likely will others be to work with someone who has attacked their personal beliefs? Their belief set may have been instrumental in leading them to the ideas of liberty.
Part of being a libertarian is accepting that you will have to work with many different people. I’ve worked with Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and people of many other creeds, or lack thereof. I’ve worked with blacks, Hispanics, Arabs, Indians, and people of many other ethnicities. When I met these people, the voice in the back of my head didn’t tell me to instantly attack them on their beliefs (or beliefs that I perceived them to have). Respect is mutual to me, no matter who I’m working with. Nor do I collectivize like some do, something that is decidedly un-libertarian in nature. Everyone is an individual. It is their character that should distinguish them, not their beliefs.
Categorical descriptors such as religion, one’s ethnicity or, one’s orientation are all things that should not determine the validity of one’s views. God makes us what we are: equal human beings. As equal human beings, we all possess the same capacity to reason, regardless of what deity we pray to or those aspects about ourselves that we cannot change, such as our ethnic backgrounds or those who we love.
I ask those who are guilty of such criticisms, regardless of who they are, to consider the big picture. Consider that we have to build bridges and not burn them down. We are a diverse movement, and we will continue to be more of one as our message spreads beyond borders and regions. I’m not asking for you to lay down your beliefs or convictions, but to become more productive by working with people regardless of who they are. On social networks, contribute to the discussion rather than lacing your responses with ad hominem attacks.
Working with many different people has opened my eyes and helped me in becoming a more capable leader. People from different backgrounds, whether they be religious, ethnic, or socio-economic differences- all have much to contribute given ways they’ve done things in the past. Integration of strengths is one of the best ways to overcome difficulties, regardless of the goals you have.
Do you want to win? Regardless of what field you are in (be it of the political, academic, or entrepreneurial variety), winning requires overcoming the petty arguments you may have based on someone’s differences. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “[w]e must hang together or assuredly, we will all hang separately.” We have too much in common in terms of our political, economic, and moral beliefs to focus on the little differences between us.