Being a libertarian is sometimes like waving at a blind man.

Hello! This is my first post, so I thought I’d begin by sharing a story with y’all. (I’m from the south, and I use “y’all”. Just go with it. I promise it will grow on ya.)

A few weeks ago, I was riding the metro when a blind man boarded the train car with his seeing-eye dog. The man sat next to me and we chatted for a moment about his dog’s fear of the metro when a lady in serious need of a visit from Stacy and Clinton boarded the train at the next stop. She waved at the blind man and said, “Hi! Remember me? We met last week?” When the man failed to respond, the woman sheepishly slid down the aisle to a seat. The man then leaned over to me and asked if the woman had been talking to him. I said she had, and mentioned that she had also waved her hand. To this the man replied, “Ha, what an idiot.”

I often wonder if being a libertarian and trying to educate others about it is a lot like waving at a blind man. We scream and shout about freedom and liberty and voluntarism like people are even able to hear us. It’s very frustrating to speak to someone about it when they have absolutely no frame of reference or worse, an incorrect frame of reference. How many people do you know or have tried to educate about libertarianism who thought it was some sort of fascist right wing conservative uprising or a French nudist cult?

So how do we fix this? Whiskey and Car Keys is certainly a start, but the problem is a lot more fundamental than this. Before the blind man can see anything, his eyes have to be in working order. What tools are we supposed to give people or teach them so that the right things ‘work’ and they’re prepared to hear our message?

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5 Responses to Being a libertarian is sometimes like waving at a blind man.

  1. Ian Dunois says:

    I view being a supporter of free markets much like being a Catholic apologetic.
    Constantly explaining what it really means and calling out those who try to paint the image as something other than what it is.

    In Margit von Mises’ biography of her husband, My Years with Ludwig von Mises, she discusses in late chapters of their grandson entering Ludwig von Mises’ study. Mises would stop his study and work in order to entertain his grandson. One day she approached him and asked him why he doesn’t lecture his grandson about liberty and economics such as he does with everyone else. Mises replied something along the lines, “When he is ready, he will begin to ask the questions.”

    When I discuss the Catholic faith with others, I just find something that will spark their interest. The rest is led by their asking of questions. Jesus tells us “search and you shall find.” Those that have their minds set are hard to enlighten, but once you give them enough to make them curious you will find that it becomes easier to discuss.

  2. Mike W says:

    I was going to say something along the lines of Ian. People need to have an open mind. I have noted that closed mindedness seems comes from peoples anxieties and insecurities. You can only have an open free mind if you allow yourself to step back from those anxieties and the struggle to survive to notice and ask questions.

    Until then I think it is up to the productive and the free of mind to stick together in a way. Set an example to be lived by. The rest of the world in a will look to what is working and maybe even seek to emulate it. If anything we should be humble non-threatening libertarians. No sudden movements. People are skid-dish.

  3. Suzanne says:

    Mike and Ian are right. Live a libertarian lifestyle and let that attract people. Then when they ask a question about what’s different with you, you have a small opening to explain where you got it and what it means to you, how it benefits you, how it meets your essential needs. Everyone is just trying to get their needs met. They let people and things into their lives when it meets a need. Show someone what it can do for them, how it can make their life better. Attraction instead of promotion. It’s worked for 12 step for over 50 years. And Jesus.

  4. Mr. Fantastic says:

    Uh, don’t forget that we might be wrong, too…

  5. mamaclaire says:

    Touche. Title correction: Talking to a libertarian is sometimes like waving at a blind man.

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