The Path of Peace and Liberty
"There is no path to peace.
"There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is
The Non-Aggression Principle
This site is about a simple yet powerful idea called the
By the Light of Liberty..
"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light." - Plato
Advocates for peace and liberty often say that they have taken "
To embrace the
..We Will Heal Our Culture
"Violence is a disease. You don't cure a disease by spreading it to more people." - The Game of Thrones
Whether it be the war on terrorism, the war on drugs, or the multiple wars against other countries, it is obvious that the State is addicted to violence.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that Western culture, and the United States in particular, has been gravely infected by
Because war thrives on
For those who are either new to the
Tales from the Trail
"Never underestimate the power of bad ideas. They must be refuted again and again" - Lew Rockwell.
Ants, members of one of the most wildly successful families of animals ever to inhabit the planet, are remarkably humble creatures. Normally staying close to the ground, when not borrowing under it, their typical behavior is to be as inconspicuous as possible. It is in their best interest to remain hidden, and that is usually what they do.
Occasionally, though, something very strange occurs. Sometimes carpenter ants get hijacked by a parasite and, rather than staying close to the ground, they instead act like zombies. With their brains surrounded and controlled by the invader they climb to the top of the nearest plant and then clasp to the bottom of a high-up leaf with a deathlike grip. Having exposed themselves to the world, the ants find their typically short lives cut even shorter as their bodies are quickly liquidated by the parasite.
Amazingly, the parasite causing this behavioral change is a deceptively simple-looking life form known as the "zombie-ant fungus", a member of an ancient kingdom of organisms that are neither plant nor animal. By controlling the ant's brain and muscles, the fungus drives the ant from the safety of the ground to a height more conducive to the distribution of fungal spores. Having reached its desired destination, the invader then feeds on the ant's body, growing the spores that will propagate its own genetic code at the cost of the ant's life.
Losing Their Minds
Tragically, our culture has also been hijacked by a lethal and invisible killer. Like the parasitic fungus that plagues the poor carpenter ant, the destructive force infecting our society is also deceptively simple in appearance yet is driving human behavior in an utterly destructive direction.
The parasite that has infected human society is not an organism in the typical sense but is instead an idea, a seemingly benign but ultimately incredibly destructive idea. It is an idea that has been around for centuries, one that has infected many cultures and has been called by many names. Often it is referred to as
Very Bad Endings
This idea has been used to excuse all nature of evil, from experiments on unsuspecting citizens to the caging and killing of humans for the expression of an unpopular idea. Unknown thousands of captives, without trial or counsel, have been tortured in American run black-op sites across the globe and millions of citizens in the U.S. alone have been imprisoned for the possession and distribution of plants and compounds used by humans for millennia. The necessary evil argument has been used to justify the starvation of hundreds of thousands of children and the invasion and destruction of dozens of countries and cultures. The idea that
As has been shown by history, if you make the "end" grand enough, whether it be a promised paradise in heaven or a heaven on earth,
All actions have consequences, and the means one chooses creates the ends. To suggest that war is the path to peace or that the torture of human beings is the road to knowledge is to torture the meaning of words and to make war on the English language. A careful study of history shows that the promised ends rarely are what were promoted and the means are often much more costly and destructive then described. In the end, evil is not necessary and the ends rarely, if ever, justify the means, particularly when practiced by the State. It is time to rid our minds, and our culture, of this truly terrible and destructive idea.
Those interested in a scientific explanation of how a fungus can turn an ant into a zombie can find an excellent research article at the Journal of Experimental Biology. Those interested in a literary discription of how power can turn humans into zombies should read the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. Nonfictional examples can be found in nearly any history book.
Carpenter Ant. Photo by Judy Gallagher, April 19, 2015. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Zombies. Photo by Joel Friesen. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Hitler Youth. Berlin, Germany, May 1, 1933. Photo by unknown photographer. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Like our modern era, the 1960s was a time of great change and turmoil. It was also a very idealistic time, and if one were to choose three words that embodied that idealism they would likely be
In contemporary times
When I was 16 I thought a lot about love. A big fan of The Beatles, I really embraced their positivity. "I love you, yeah, yeah, yeah" and "I want to hold your hand" were hooks that had captured me when I was 12, and as I grew older I began to exam the decade from which they arose. Tracing the Beatles' history and then the history of other musicians, I learned about the
Unfortunately much of the rest of that turbulent decade is more remembered for its violence and rage, in the U.S. and across the globe. Without a doubt, in the midst of the riotous violence at home and the
What do we really mean by love, though? It certainly seems that love has something to do with a strong attraction or affinity for something, or someone. We talk about loving a song, loving our mates, and loving our brothers. Christians will tell you that
The most primal type of love considered by the Greeks is
Eros certainly commands a lot of attention from most sixteen-year-olds, but it is not the only type of love experienced by youth. Brotherly love, or
Parental love can be a powerfully strong form of love. On the surface the parent\child bond may seem to be a particularly imbalanced type of relationship, but those who have been parents know otherwise, for the power that a child can have over a parent is beyond description.
Indeed, the depth to which parents are willing to sacrifice for the children can be breathtaking and profound, and it may very well be that demonstrations of this inspired the ancient Greeks to define yet another type of love, that of
Agape was considered by the Greeks to be the highest form of love. It is a powerful and unwavering attraction to the good, the divine, the transcendent. It is a state in which the very self may seem to disappear. It is a love beyond which all words transpire. It is love without desire.
As can be seen,
What is the source of this destruction? What is the force that would destroy the very foundations of love? What is this power that seeks to divide us, that pits man against woman, child against parent, brother against brother? It is not hard to discover, for those that have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Over the centuries it has become clear that only the State has the coercive power necessary to weaken and destroy the natural bonds of family and friends.
In the U.S. it was the State, in its various manifestations of federal and local power, that passed and enforced the racist laws that mandated segregation in government offices and places of commerce.
In the U.S. and other countries it was the State that passed laws prohibiting marriage between members of different ethnic and ancestral groups.
In modern times it is the State that destroys the charitable impulse, muting our natural empathy through fear mongering, destroying our natural desire to cooperate through trade barriers and tariffs.
And it is the State that starts and wages the wars that destroy homes, demolish families and create countless widows, orphans and refugees.
It should be obvious that
A more detailed look at the true nature of the State can be found in the chapter Treacherous Roads.
The Ecstasy of Saint Francis of Assisi. Public domain image of an original painting by El Greco circa 1580. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
The Kiss. Public domain image of a sculpture by Auguste Rodin circa 1882. Downloaded from Musée Rodin, Paris, web site.
"Brothers on the Beach", from a photograph by Andrew Lesko.
Domestic Happiness. Public domain image of a painting by Lilly Martin Spencer, circa 1849. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Christmas: Inns and Outs
"Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." - Jesus of Nazareth.
One of the most popular parables of the New Testament is the tale of the
In the parable, Jesus tells the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who is robbed and left for dead. Two members of the priestly class see the suffering man but do nothing to help, not wishing to become "ritually impure". Eventually a Samaritan comes upon the man and, with a compassionate heart, binds the man's wounds, transports him to an inn and provides payment for his care. Through his actions the Samaritan shows that he is the one who is truly doing the work of God.
The origins of kindness
All that we are, this very life we have, flows from an extended family that reaches deep into the distant past. We all come into this life through the efforts of our parents, and they by their parents, and their parents' parents, helped through the ages by supportive brothers and sisters, caring aunts and uncles, and wise elder relatives.
Our family is our earliest connection to others. These are our kin, the very origin of kindness, both the word and the act. From our family we learn to look beyond ourselves, to share, to care and to consider the needs of others.
Trace any family tree back several generations and you quickly find connections to dozens, hundreds, and eventually unknown thousands of other families. We are truly one human family, all linked together and dependent on one another, and increasingly so.
Poets, prophets and sages through the ages have commented on the connections among all peoples and even among all things. John Donne expressed this idea beautifully in the following poem:
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,
As well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were.
Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind;
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Healing the divisions
Politicians rule by dividing. Wise men heal by uniting.
We live in a world artificially divided into us versus them. Unnecessary destruction, cruelty and death are tragedies whether they happen in foreign lands or in one's own home. Instead of division, let us be guided by the
The Good Samaritan. Detail from a painting by Balthasar van Cortbemde (1647). Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Fifty-fifty. Photo by Herbert E. French (1922). Public domain photo downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
Cosmic connections. Top left image shows distribution of galaxies, bottom right shows neurons. Image of galaxies is from the Max Planck Society's Supercomputing Center in Garching, Germany. Image of neurons is from Paul De Koninck, Cervo Brain Research Center. Composition by Andrew Lesko.
“We are the authors of our own destiny; and being the authors, we are ultimately, perhaps frighteningly, free.” - Śāntideva
Waking up to the NAP
I recall first learning about
I found both the concept and the statues beautiful. I do not completely understand
Rather than living in ignorance and fear, we libertarians embrace knowledge and compassion.
Guanyin-Bodhisattva: Baltimore Museum of Art; Padmasambhava, Demon-Taming Teacher: Freer Museum, Washington D.C. Photos by Andrew Lesko, with modifications.
A Matter of Perspective
One beautiful example is Raphael's
In contrast to that time,
The people in power, in turn, seem incapable of seeing beyond a single dimension. Lacking any depth of understanding regarding
Finally there are the citizens. Often misinformed but nonetheless willing participants in the political process, they flail back and forth within the narrow confines of left and right, seemingly distracted by the smallest of issues and unable to see the bigger picture. Blocked in their desire for peace and prosperity by forces they cannot see, they fixate on small obstacles but perceive them as insurmountable barriers. Lacking perspective, they are unable to see alternate paths forward.
As long as people are locked into the false dichotomy of left and right, they will forever be unable to see the fuller, richer reality.
"School of Athens" by Raphael, c. 1509-1511; "Where Did We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" by Paul Gauguin, c. 1897; "Return of the Bucentoro to the Molo on Ascension Day" by Canaletto, c. 1733-4; "The Nolan Chart", from a diagram created by David Nolan in 1969.
A Vision for Peace
This does not need to be. There are millions of good Christians in the world, perhaps even hundreds of millions, who seek to live the words of Jesus.
With regards to war, I have no doubt the Christians will play an important and perhaps even decisive role in ending that plague as well. As with abolition, it will no doubt require sustained and unyielding effort.
A Time for Action
The time has come to end the wars, and to end them now. On this there can be no compromise. Just as "Who will pick the cotton?" was not a valid argument to support slavery, "How can we protect ourselves without military interventions?" is not a rational argument to support US military involvement in at least
Ending the wars will require strength. Unfortunately there is weakness within the Christian community.
Jesus said that one cannot serve two masters. Unfortunately it seems that many churches have forgotten this lesson,
It is time to recognize that the State is not our master. It is time for Christians and secularists, Jews and Gentiles, to break free of the State and join together to support peace, liberty and the end of all wars. We must stop being seen as willing participants or even promoters of the State's wars of death and destruction. I believe this is something we can and must agree on.
A more detailed discussion of these topics can be found in the Beginner's Guide to Peace referenced at the top of this page. An explanation of how the State hijacks religion can be found in the chapter called Losing the Way while a discussion of how to repair the damage to our culture can be found at Going Off Road.
Detail from "Sermon on the Mount" by Carl Bloch, c. 1877; Roman coins c. 225-212 BC, provided by Classical Numismatic Group and used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.
"Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance." - Francis of Assisi
An old man suckles at the breast of a young woman. How should we view this image? Is it a dirty picture? What does that even mean? Should we be squeamish or outraged with regard to the act it depicts, or can we charitably think of a situation where such an act would be appropriate?
The image shown is from a centuries-old painting by Johan Carl Loth. Completed in the second half of the 17th century, the title of the work is "Caritas Romana", or "Roman Charity". The painting portrays a scene from a popular story that goes back millenia, all the way back to ancient Rome.
The story is about an elder man named Cimon who is imprisoned for illegally burying his father. Sentenced to death by starvation, his daughter Pero visits him in prison and secretly feeds her father from her bosom. Eventually spotted by a guard, the sentry is moved to tears by the charitable act. In the end, both the father and daughter are freed.
Generations ago the deed depicted in the painting was considered to be an excellent example of familial piety and a noble act of charity. The scene has been depicted numerous times in classical European art. The story likely originates from an even older version featuring an elderly mother as the prisoner.
The presumption of innocence
There is a concept in philosophy called
In our current time there seems to be a rising number of people primed to be offended, who mistakenly believe that the smallest verbal mis-queues are grounds for punishment. This is not a new phenomenon but one that seems to be intensifying.
Perhaps this is because we are losing our connections to each other. Part of this may be technological. Studies have shown that feelings of isolation and depression increase with time spent on social media. Part of it may be educational. The teaching and promotion of victimhood seems to be increasing in intensity as students are taught to see oppression from everything but the State. It is certainly political. The ruling class loves it when the public is distracted by arguments over microaggressions as the State wages war against people at home and overseas.
Viewing others in a positive light
Are these people in need because of misfortune, or are they there as a natural consequence of their own negative actions?
The truth is that no one can fully know the journey that another has traveled.
One characteristic of charity is kindness in judging others. The Apostle Paul said it well:
It is said that charity begins at home. This is probably true because all charity must begin with a connection. It can be an empathetic connection like the emotional pull of family and friends or a logical connection based on an understanding of the benefits of cooperation and mutual aid. When connections are very strong giving is not a sacrifice but a necessity. Truly, with the closest connections it can feel like one's own heart will break if one cannot give generously and help others when they are in need.
The puritanical willingness to use the violence of the State to enforce one's own view of morality has long existed in the U.S., to the misfortune of many. More information on this phenomenon can be found in the chapter Losing the Way in our free online book Beginner's Guide to Peace.
* Principle of Charity - Definition is from the book "The Coddling of the American Mind" by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.
Caritas Romana (Roman Charity). Painting by Johan Carl Loth (1632-1698). Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
A Portrait of a Tyrolean Girl. Painting by Knaus Ludwig (1874). Public domain image downloaded from ClassicArtPaintings.com.
Charity. A woman with three children huddled in front of the church of the Madeleine in Paris. Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1865). Public domain image downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.
"Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality." - Edgar Allan Poe
The penultimate episode of the Game of Thrones left millions of viewers horrified. They witnessed the senseless and utter destruction of a beautiful city occupied by hundreds of thousands of civilians. The Queen, it seems, had lost her mind in
As much of any fantasy movie or series can, the Game of Thrones revealed a historic reality often ignored. That reality is that civilians are not just the "collateral damage" of brutal wars but are very often the targets.
The included picture shows what was left of the German city of Dresden after a massive firebombing by Allied forces. In a series of four raids, from February 13 to the 15th, 1945, the "good guys" carpeted the city with bombs and incendiary devices. They did so with the intent of utterly destroying the city, and its largely civilian population, by fire and suffocation. After waves of bombing the city was engulfed in
The targeting of civilians did not end with
The reality is, as insane as the actions of the Dragon Queen were, the fantasy world of the Game of Thrones cannot compete with the real world, a world where criminals such as Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and Bill and Hillary Clinton walk free with little or any hint that they might someday pay for the war and other crimes they have committed.
A more detailed look at how the war makers deceive us can be found in the chapter Dead Ends.
Photograph of Dresden by Richard Peter, 1945. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license. Downloaded from Wikimedia.org
War is threatening to become pandemic across several large regions of the globe and there are signs that we are on the verge of a world wide epidemic. Careful planning and extreme caution are advised.
The war disease continues to shorten the lives of hundreds of thousands each year, both directly and through destruction of basic social services.
Please visit Antiwar.com for daily updates.