While I’m preparing all the material and programming for the full site at GoVoluntary.org, I’m going to be sharing thoughts and info here, so I can get feedback and any contribution readers wish to put in.
So what is this all about? “Go Voluntary!”? Huh?
Okay, here’s the overview in its most raw form.
“Go Voluntary” is the slogan for a campaign to a saner world. The action is to focus the attention of individuals on a very simple truth. This truth is something which people already know, but have been endeavoring to forget, by habit. We are at a moment in the cycle of the world when it is time to remember this truth. It is a truth which, if held in common and honored by the majority of individuals in any area, couldn’t help but bring harmony to that area. That harmony actually starts with the individual, because how could you hope to have a peaceful and sane group unless it is built upon such individuals.
The key to the campaign is the simplicity of this truth and what it implies.
This movement is already underway. I’m just looking to give it a really big shove at the viral, grassroots level.
Sounds ambitions, doesn’t it?
Well, carry on with my logic and wrap your wits around these very simple concepts, and see if I am making sense or if I’m in a pipe dream.
The concept I’m about to state is so common-sense, that it seems to have been overlooked as a “solution” to many of Man’s difficulties. Of course, I might be exaggerating (unintentionally) but I beg you to not dismiss this line of thought out of hand, but to follow my logic, then to think about it and consult your own experience. If I’m in error, let me know how.
Okay, let’s cut right to the meat.
Only Self Can Choose
Again, simplicity is the beauty of this. The statement seems very innocuous at first glance, but let’s examine the ramifications, as it actually could be a sort of lowest common denominator of all experience.
Self and Choice (volition) are inseparable. Choice issues from the very essence of being.
You can bring reasoning, logic, persuasion, pressure, coercion, force, etc., to bear on other Selves, but you can never actually make a choice for them. No one else can ever truly make a choice for you.
Where choices are at odds, there is friction. This is true between individuals, but it is also true within one person when he gets stuck with his own conflicting choices. All of life could probably be summed up as the interplay of choices.
You can convince people, by whatever means, that they “have no choice,” but that is never really true.
Where there is life, there is choice.
Choice simply is.
Choice cannot be escaped.
Choice is one thing of which you can always be certain and from which you can never get away and still be you.
(Take a few moments to carefully go over each paragraph above, starting from “Only Self Can Choose.” Let the ideas settle in a bit. Is there anything with which you disagree? If so, please let us discuss it in the comments section or send me an email.)
Now let’s take another look at this datum: Only Self Can Choose.
The idea could get pretty mystical or get bogged down in frivolous refutations, so let’s take a look at what we are talking about, and what we’re not. For our purposes here, we’re talking about personal responsibility for the choices one makes or doesn’t, and subject of choice as it relates to human interaction. (I personally think it applies on a much broader scale, but that’s beyond our current scope here.)
Also, for our purpose Self does not need to be defined by any limiting description. The concept functions the same whether you think you are a spirit, a body, a brain, or any other possible defining characteristic. You know who I’m talking to. Yeah you, the one who’s reading this. So we can bypass any fight over the nature and origins of the universe. These conclusions are not necessary to the resolution of the problem at hand.
The inevitability of choice is also no less true if you consider that God, Government or some other entity holds higher, or even ultimate authority in life. YOU must still determine what the will of that authority is for you and how, or even whether, you will follow. You can choose to be obedient — or even that you “have too” be obedient — but that is still your choice.
One cannot always determine the outcome of any event or circumstance, but choice always exists on some level, even if it is just regarding the attitude you will adopt regarding circumstances.
So, if Only Self Can Choose, the first requirement for a sane life is Respect for Self. This might be said to be the keynote of the Go Voluntary movement. To move forward, we must cultivate Respect for Self in all it’s aspects.
First, of course, is to nurture respect for your own Self. After all, you are THE chooser in your own life. You deserve respect. And to the degree that you can embrace this (while others will naturally respect you more) it won’t matter at all what others might think.
Second, and JUST as important, is to cultivate respect for all other Selves. I wouldn’t want to offend anyone with a misrepresentation but, to my understanding, this reminds me of the Hindu greeting Namaste which might be translated as “The spark of God in me, acknowledges the spark of God in you.” Or in the nature of the greeting in the movie Avatar— “I see you.” I think one cannot truly respect one’s own Self without equally respecting all other Selves, and vise versa.
So we have as the fundamental concept “Only Self Can Choose.” This is the bedrock that we’re building on.
Recognition of that then brings “Respect for Self” as a natural progression.
So where does “Go Voluntary!” fit in?
Ah, this brings us back to the consideration that life is an interplay of choices, and that where choices are at odds, there is conflict. People often feel pushed around, governed by choices of others, to a greater or lesser extent. Today that extent is getting greater and greater. While this is unfortunate in so many ways, in this age of fast communication it also opens a most wonderful opportunity.
Go Voluntary! is, as I said at the beginning, as slogan, but it is does something much more. Just trying to grasp the concept orients one into the Self. It can’t help but do so. After all, you can’t possibly Go Voluntary without being your own Self. Combined indivisibly with that is the innate feeling that voluntary interaction is always best if possible. The whole package of thought I’ve laid out in the previous pages is implied in those two words. (If you think it through, I think you will also find that no one ever has EVER been able to do anything else, regardless of what we all let on. But that’s another matter that will be fun to discuss later.)
Let’s take a bit here and examine the current state of Man.
As a race, we have a very interesting problem. On an individual and very local level, we tend to organize ourselves almost completely on a voluntary basis. With few exceptions, we get along with our neighbors sociably, not because the police will punish us if we don’t, but because it feels good and is to our benefit. On this interpersonal level, we tend to respect ourselves sufficiently to protect our interests, person and property, and at the same time respect others enough to try to avoid violating theirs. In other words, the bulk of our lives are lived without considering that we need a ruler. We live within a framework of agreed-upon expectations which we try to honor.
But on the large scale we choose to tolerate, and even encourage, another very different basis to organize our affairs: We choose the initiation of force and coercion, in the form of taxation, compulsory participation, arbitrary rule, etc., as the first action. This is the idea we call “government” or “authority.” This is not to say that all products of “government” are evil. We like the roads we have, and don’t really object to having principles of order (known as traffic laws) by which we try to get around safely and efficiently. There are other things government does which actually are fine. That’s not the point. It is where “government” or “authority” start that we are examining.
Organization and order are necessary to civilized life, but we somehow assume that if we didn’t have the violence initiated by government (in other words, real disrespect for Self), people would not be able or willing to work out how to even get around or accomplish anything else in a respectful way. And honestly, at the current moment, if government simply disappeared, we undoubtedly would have a mess and would hurry to put a coercive government back in place – probably a much worse one than we’ve got now. That is the current state of agreement as to how society should run.
So, we have a real puzzle: On the one hand we have the very essence of our being – our volition, our choice – being honored as the first principle of interaction. On the other hand, we have the disrespect for and denial of that same essence as the first principle of our primary social organizations. (This same conflict is also common on a family level. But that, also, is a great topic for later.)
As people begin to become aware of the underlying violence and fraud inherent in the functioning of their government, they have various reactions: Indignation, blaming “government” for betraying them, finding “government” guilty of not following the Constitution, etc. We tend to want to correct government so that it promotes freedom, liberty, equality and prosperity – so that it does “its rightful job” – though it can never really do so, because it disrespects Self in its very nature.
Just because government in its coercive form “has always been with us” is no reason to assume that it is the only way. One hundred fifty years ago, one could have said that we will always have state-sanctioned slavery, because it had always existed before in our history. Individuals make different choices, society evolves. Perhaps a different sort of slavery still exists, but at least it is “free range” slavery rather than being outright. The point is that slavery is now universally considered completely immoral, though less than two centuries ago, most still held it to be just and honorable, and had for all of recorded history.
It is an error to assign the blame for social ills to “government” or “authority.” Remember that the social environment we see is always the result of the interplay of CHOICES. Government cannot make choices. Only Selves can choose. So, really, it is exactly as the comic strip character Pogo once famously said — “We have met the enemy and he is us!”
So where do we go from here?
This is where “changing the world” comes in.
If you agree with me so far, you’ll probably agree that the structure of society is simply a collection of choices. Where those choices are strongly agreed upon, the fabric seems indestructible, but that strength is simply a pattern of agreements. Those agreements do shift. Some people have more influence over the choices presented to people, some have less. But we all have some.
What if we had our hands on an idea that sits at the very core of how society is structured?
What if that idea were simple?
What if that idea were a call to do something which all Selves are inately drawn to?
What if it were an idea that would liberate the mind of any prisoner, whether their body remained captive or not?
What if it would spread and be shared amongst all people agreeably, without the necessity for a central command or guide, or necessity to convert to or from some “-ism” or “-ology”?
What if it were an idea that could survive any calamity and then continue to grow, as long as there were a few to reignite the flame?
What if there were a global network of interpersonal communication to utilize in spreading this idea?
Do you think there’s hope for Man?
This is already happening on quite a large scale. I think I’ve simplified things a bit. I see the tools to make this idea truly viral.
I have many other resources which I’ll be linking on the GoVoluntary.org site soon. These will help a lot. They are some of my most useful sources of inspiration and guidance. I think that understanding what I’ve laid out here will make them even more useful.
The idea of Go Voluntary! is not to fight coercion or tyranny. It is not to assert one’s prerogative to choose. It is really just a matter of noticing and welcoming the fact that each and every Self does choose, and inviting others to notice the same thing. It is really with an attitude of deep respect for one’s own and all other Selves that we proceed. We are much more agreeable to change when we are respected. This is completely natural, not forced, respect.
That isn’t to say that a fight against tyranny is never necessary. That is still a choice one may be called upon to make. But when a majority of people actually see the nature of the tyranny and, more importantly, their own complicity in it, any fight is over quickly — if it even comes to that.
I have many ideas and experiences to share as to how this comes into play in our daily lives. Looking forward to sharing these, and getting your input as well.
So there you go. What do you think?