Beginner's Guide to Peace - Finding Solid Footing
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
First Steps - The Logic of the NAP
To establish the rationale for the
First we need to determine what we know for certain. One thing that seems irrefutable, at least to me, is that I exist. To borrow from the mathematician Rene Descartes,
What next seems obvious is that we are each responsible for the movements of our own bodies. I can think of a basic action to perform and my body will do it, within reason. No one else seems capable of controlling my body the way I can. I therefore must be the owner, or possessor, of my body. This is the concept of
On the Move - Human Action
The next thing we discover is that,
- To survive, we must be free to move, to procure our food and drink.
- To be moral, we must be free to reason and to choose. We cannot allow ourselves to be ruled by base instincts less we be mere puppets. Neither can we allow ourselves to be ruled by others less we become slaves.
- To thrive, we must be free to reach into the unknown, to feed our mind’s curiosity and to discover what lies beyond.
Whether an infant grasping for a first touch or an elderly person reaching out for a final one, whether or not we even have the capability, each of us has the desire and the fundamental need to move and to be free.
Pausing for Reflection
We as human beings are one of the few animals that can recognize ourselves in the mirror. More importantly, we have an innate ability to recognize our fellow human beings and are able to reflect on and consider other people's situations empathetically.
One thing we quickly notice is that
Negotiating the Outside World
As sole owners of our bodies, it should be obvious that we are each responsible for our own actions. It should be equally obvious that we each have an unquestionable right, or claim, to the products of our own labors but can make no such claim of rights to the production of others without mutual agreement.
In asserting ownership of our individual efforts, however, there are complications. Our productive endeavors require interaction with the world outside, both for a supply of raw materials and as a storehouse for our output. In extending beyond the natural boundaries of our bodies, we inevitably find ourselves at risk of conflict with each other. With regard to the spaces that previously separated us,
Harmony and Balance
To deal fairly and peacefully with each other it thus becomes crucial to establish rules to provide fair and reasonable access to source materials as well as to support each other’s claim to our own productive output. The aggregation of these rules is the concept known as
- The Non-Aggression Principle is based on the concept of Self-Ownership. We are ultimately free to act as we wish but are also responsible for our actions.
- In our interactions with others, there arises a need to provide orderly access to resources as well as protect the products of each person’s labor. One solution is the institution of Property Rights.
Picture Credits^ Tennessee trail: Photo and artwork by Andrew Lesko. ^ The Thinker: Photo by Jean-David & Anne-Laure of a sculpture designed by Rodin in 1880. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. ^ Touch: Detail from the fresco The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo (1508-1512). Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons. ^ Reflection: Detail fom the painting The Toilet of Venus by Peter Paul Rubens (1612-1615). Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons. ^ Venetian Trade: The Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice. Painting by Canaletto (1730). Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.