Prepare to be enlightened. This might just be my favorite Big Think video of all time. Watch it, and then watch it again.
Prepare to be enlightened. This might just be my favorite Big Think video of all time. Watch it, and then watch it again.
One of my teenage daughters—a 2nd generation self-professed libertarian and voluntaryist—is a big fan of YouTube star Savannah Brown. I’ve checked out a bunch of her videos and I think she’s amazing!
In one of her videos from back in 2015, Savannah Brown shares her top 3 values, which are:
In the video, she elaborates on each of her top 3 core values, and explains why she chose them.
“Independence in the sense that I want to be comfortable in my own body, as a person. And I want to be happy, as myself, and not depend on any outside thing to make me happy. So, I think just being independent, in that respect, to just have the independence to live your life as yourself without relying on anything else.”
“I like making things. I like being able to take an idea and kind of shift it, and being able to look at it from a different point of view.”
My third value is skepticism. And here’s why: This might have to do with the fact that I’m a literal anarchist and have issues with authority. But, as a child, we’re just told to obey the people in charge… without question. In first grade… listen to your teacher because they know. But then, as you get older, you realize that people don’t know, and the people in charge don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re just people… I can think things myself, and I can disagree with people who are seen as higher than me, and I can do that. And sometimes I can be right.
Don’t be put off by the fact that she uses the word ‘anarchist’. Although the word anarchy is often confused with things like violence and destruction, chaos and disorder, in truth the word ‘anarchy’ just means without rulers.
Anarchists are really just peaceful people who believe individuals can govern themselves. In fact, we all do exactly that in many ways every single day, without even realizing it.
What a great inspiration and role model for teenage girls and young women! In the video, she talks about living her life according to her core values. She puts into practice the things that she values most. The world needs more independent feminine voices like hers.
I hope more young women will come out publicly and express their thoughts on independence, anarchism, and living life according to our values. They have the power to be thought leaders for the next generation of independent young women.
Check out this awesome quote from another one of her videos.
“You are damn right, my body is a temple. I am the god it was built for.”
Thank you, Savannah Brown. I am grateful for you, your independence, your creativity, and your skepticism. You have chosen to use your sphere of influence in such a beautiful, positive way. The world is enriched by your presence. You have touched my daughter’s heart, and mine as well.
You can follow Savannah Brown on YouTube here.
You can follow her on Twitter here.
You can follow her on Instagram here.
Live free with me,
Check out this awesome 5-minute clip from an interview of Jeffrey Tucker by Brett Veinotte of the School Sucks Project in which Jeffrey Tucker talks about the whole point of Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns.
Brett Veinotte: How did you feel when Ron Paul first appeared in 2007?
Jeffrey Tucker: To me, liberty is not really about having the right person in charge. And the thing—even though I worked for Ron and I love him dearly, and he’s a good friend—I always worried about those campaigns that they would send the wrong message. That the answer would be to elect the right person to enact the right policies from the top. And our only job is to become wildly devoted to this person. The Ron Paul movement was weird because most of the movements are better than their leader, like the Taft—if you go back to the Taft movement—Robert Taft. He was never that great, but the Taftians themselves were wonderful. You know? Sort of the origin of modern libertarianism in America. But Ron was kind of the opposite. I always thought he was much better than his followers.
Brett Veinotte: Why?
Jeffrey Tucker: His followers were looking for a leader on the white horse to lead them to some dreamy land, to give them their rights. And Ron never believed that. I mean, he always ran as an educator, but his followers never saw him as that. Ron always had to deal with this problem. And I think it was very unfortunate in a way. I mean, Ron sought the presidency in order to give himself kind of a stage to talk about ideas, but he could never make that message stick, in a way. I mean, he created this relatively robust but small movement of fanatics who found themselves dedicated to politics as a means of change. And here we are, 2015. Where are we with this movement? I mean, everybody I know who was ever deeply involved in that world is now demoralized.
Brett Veinotte: Yeah, they seem to think the goal was to get…
Jeffrey Tucker: To get him in office. They never understood. It’s like they didn’t really listen to what Ron was saying. I mean, look, I don’t think I’ve ever said publicly.
Brett Veinotte: Thank you.
Jeffrey Tucker: Yeah. These are thoughts I’ve had for a long time. So, I’m just telling you that was my perception all along. And my prediction was that these people—well, I could see it happening—this messiah thing going on, you know, and it broke my heart in a way because it’s not what Ron ever wanted. And I knew—because we all knew—the truth about politics is it leads you to nothing. Peoples’ hearts are broken. Their spirits are broken. Their financial resources are exhausted. Their emotional attachments are betrayed. I mean, that’s what politics does for you. It’s terrible what it does to peoples’ spirits. But, you know what, here’s the thing: We need to realize, like now, it is not about politics. It’s about the change that we can make in the spheres of life that we can control, which is mostly just ourselves.
Brett Veinotte: Jeeze. Amen. We talked about this a hundred times on my show, but I want to get your thoughts on it. We deal with school a lot. School is a place where people—young people—feel very small. They don’t feel very efficacious. They don’t feel very powerful. And when people start to wake up to some of these realities of the world—especially the political world—part of the tragedy is that they suddenly gravitate to the biggest things, the furthest away from themselves, the hardest to control.
Jeffrey Tucker: Yeah. That’s so interesting.
Brett Veinotte: And I did it. I mean, in 2007, when I found Ron Paul, I was like, yeah, this guy probably should be president. And, yeah, we probably should end the Fed, now that I’ve read a little about it. This doesn’t sound like a good thing. Doesn’t sound like it’s helping us out. But all this energy that could’ve been devoted to a personal liberty mission…
Jeffrey Tucker: Yeah. Changing the world, changing your life, fixing up the world as far as you can control it. I think what you said is really profound. And I hope the lesson is not to become hopeless. Right? Not to just say, oh, if we can’t get our guy elected into office there’s no hope whatsoever. My hope is that ultimately Ron Paul’s legacy will be as a teacher and drawing us to certain ideals. That would be awesome. But the question is then, what do you do with those ideals? And, I think the answer is, you find out ways to make your own life freer, and gradually spread that freedom as far and wide as you possibly can from your center of where you live right now. And, you know what? That’s going to be essential because it’s the only answer. I mean, we are not going to reform the system from the top down. It comes through decentralized, unpredictable, exciting, surprising, innovative ways from among the people, you know, starting with our lives. And in that sense I’m wildly optimistic.
Just by realizing our ownership over our own lives and by living our lives as best we can, we can change the world—starting with ourselves. Because, like Jeffrey Tucker said, “it is not about politics. It’s about the change that we can make in the spheres of life that we can control, which is mostly just ourselves.”
Live free with me. 🙂
Check out this awesome post by Jennifer McGrail over at The Path Less Taken. Privacy is a big deal, especially with teenagers. We must respect their privacy.
One of the biggest challenges parents face in attempting to raise our children to become peaceful, compassionate, critical thinking individuals, is overcoming the outdated authoritarian parenting programming that most of our parents modeled for us when we were growing up.
I believe it is imperative that we rise to this challenge for two reasons:
Most of us were raised in controlling, authoritarian households in which one or both of our parents used coercion, bribery, emotional blackmail, spanking, and punishments to make us behave. Our parents and guardians used these traditional parenting methods because it was what they knew to do in order to get us to behave, be quiet, submit, and obey. Some of us had the misfortune of growing up in abusive households. Many of us learned what we lived, and now parent our own children using coercive methods too (even if our styles differ somewhat from our parents’ coercive parenting methods).
So, if we want to raise fully autonomous, peaceful individuals who think for themselves and don’t blindly follow coercive authoritarian systems of doing things, we need to carefully examine our long-held beliefs about parenting. Change starts from within.
For centuries, people thought it was perfectly fine to own other people.
After that horribly violent abomination finally was abolished, it was still fashionable in Western society for husbands to believe they owned their wives. Husbands were even encouraged to use physical force, humiliation, and intimidation to “discipline” their wives if they didn’t like their behavior.
Finally, the tired old idea that children belong to their parents is fading away, and it’s about time! Dayna Martin, author, speaker, and radical unschooling mom, wrote an excellent article on her blog called The Evolution of Children’s Rights that echos similar sentiments.
“We live in a world where parents are told to control and modify their children’s behavior. They are told that this is the goal of parenting. Most parents take pride in how obedient their children are and feel embarrassed when their children do not listen to them. It wasn’t very long ago that men were told to beat their wives if they didn’t obey. Men were encouraged by their fathers, friends and leaders to punish their wives harshly for disobedience. Look how far we have come since then! Men would be arrested today if they lived life this way now.
I believe that the same evolution is happening with children and their rights. We are on the cusp of change. In time, we will look back on these days with disgust and regret. When we can acknowledge the injustice that children live through being controlled, punished, and forced to live a subservient life we can begin to heal ourselves from our own upbringing.”
John Locke, English philosopher and physician, wrote about the idea of self-ownership all the way back in 1689 in an essay called Of Property and Government, in which he asserted that everyone has property in their own person. In other words, everyone owns themselves.
Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a “property” in his own “person.” This nobody has any right to but himself.
—John Locke, Of Property and Government
Hundreds of years later, Robert LeFevre, American libertarian businessman, activist, and radio personality, took the idea of self-ownership even further in his book The Philosophy of Ownership, and even extended self-ownership to infants, back in 1966.
“An adult who is injured in some way, who may be ill or decrepit in old age, is still recognized as an owner of himself and his other properties. He may have to be waited upon hand and foot, yet his ownership of himself is not questioned, so long as he lives. The same realization should apply to all persons, infants included. I would set down as the fundamental instances of incorrect ownership the ancient practice of possessive marriage, possessive child-parent relationships, and control of the slave obtained in battle or in any other way.”
—Robert LeFevre, Chapter 4, The Philosophy of Ownership
One of my favorite living voluntaryists is writer and speaker Wendy McElroy. She offers a very straightforward view of self-ownership that I absolutely love. It really gets to the heart of the matter of self-ownership and makes it clear enough for even children to understand.
“Self-ownership begins with your skin. If you cannot clearly state, “Everything beneath the skin is me; this is the line past which no one has the right to cross without permission,” then there is no foundation for individual rights or for libertarianism.”
“Evil does not arise only from evil people, but also from good people who tolerate the initiation of force as a means to their own ends. In this manner, good people have empowered evil throughout history.
Having confidence in a free society is to focus on the process of discovery in the marketplace of values rather than to focus on some imposed vision or goal. Using … force to impose a vision on others is intellectual sloth and typically results in unintended, perverse consequences. Achieving a free society requires courage to think, to talk, and to act – especially when it is easier to do nothing.”
—Ken Schoolland, The Philosophy of Liberty
So you see, your children are not your children—they own themselves. Children own their own bodies, their own lives, their own choices, their own successes, their failures, their hopes and their dreams, and they own their own property.
Life, liberty, and property form the basis of a truly free society. We, as parents, must learn to respect our children’s intrinsic self-ownership, and regard them as individuals worthy of cooperation and respect. If we want to escape the authoritarian, coercive paradigm that has been perpetuated on humanity by governments, religious institutions, our education system, and our culture, we must commit to raising our children peacefully, cooperatively, and in a way that respects their natural right to be safe and secure in their own bodies.
According to Wikipedia, “Self-ownership (or sovereignty of the individual, individual sovereignty or individual autonomy) is the concept of property in one’s own person, expressed as the moral or natural right of a person to have bodily integrity, and be the exclusive controller of her or his own body and life.”
“…every individual is the owner of their own body—even children.The fact that children are born in a state of incapacity doesn’t mean the parent owns the child in the child’s stead; it means the parent is charged with stewardship until the child has been raised out of this state of incapacity. This means that the parent should make rational decisions to preserve the bodily integrity of the child that they think the child would make if the child was able. This does not give the parent a license to verbally abuse or physically beat a child but rather puts an ever greater charge of ensuring that the child comes to no harm. By recognizing the child’s property right to their own body, we can frame aggressions against children as what they are (trespasses) and they can be dealt with accordingly.”
—Jared Howe, Rapper, writer, and voluntaryist
Jared Howe brings up an excellent point here. Because children own themselves (including their bodies), committing aggression against them (i.e.: spanking and other forms of physical violence, intimidation, and punishment out of rage, frustration, or for behavior modification purposes) is a violation of children’s rights. We owe it to ourselves, our children, and to the more peaceful and free world we know is possible to stop resorting to violence in response to problems.
Compared to their non-spanked peers, children who are spanked are more likely to use aggression against their peers, they are less likely to internalize rules, they are more likely to engage in criminal activity during adolescence, they are more likely to engage in domestic abuse as adults, and they are more likely to suffer from depression. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics is publicly against spanking because of its numerous negative effects on children’s health and development.
In 2011, Stefan Molyneux, a well-known Peaceful Parenting advocate, put out a great video on the facts about spanking. It’s a topic he’s covered extensively. I hope you’ll check it out and learn the facts about spanking. I think most parents will be less likely to spank their children, after learning about its effects on children’s development.
According to the Bible, Jesus spoke to the people and urged them to treat others the way they would wish to be treated. He even went so far as to emphasize that this precept is fundamental to Christianity. It’s a moral law of reciprocity laid down by the Christ himself, that two separate disciples of Christ (Matthew and Luke) wrote down for posterity.
Christians who ignore or overlook this tenet of Christianity as it applies to how they treat their children are quite honestly missing the point. See for yourself.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
—Luke 6:31 New International Version (NIV)
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
—Matthew 7:12 New International Version (NIV)
Maxims like The Golden Rule are universal ethics of reciprocity. That is why most of the world’s religions have key commandments that provide guidelines for how we should treat others.
How we treat other people—including children—should be no different than the way in which we would wish to be treated.
Whether you’re religious, atheist, or agnostic, the moral maxim to treat others with the same respect you would like to be treated is still relevant.
How we treat other people—including children—should be no different than the way in which we would wish to be treated. It’s time to abolish all forms of interpersonal aggression and domination, and instead model the peaceful, free society we wish to live in.
We are the ambassadors of The Free Society, and it’s our job not to proselytize or coerce our children into behaving the way we want them to, but instead to show them the way by living out our libertarian principles so that they can see them in action and make the conscious choice to emulate them of their own volition.
Parents decide each day—sometimes consciously, and sometimes unconsciously—how we treat others in our own interpersonal relationships, how we speak, and how we prioritize what matters to us. Our children are watching and learning from our behavior.
We should consciously choose to be the kinds of people we want our children to grow up to be. We should treat them the way we wish to be treated—the way we would have appreciated our parents treating us back when we were children.
If we seek a peaceful and free society, we should start by creating one in our homes for our children, so that they grow up knowing that it is possible—because they’ve lived it.
If we as a people want to move away from using violence and coercion to get things done in this world, we have to start making changes at home. In order to raise children who will grow up to resolve conflicts peacefully, and respect themselves and others, we must lead the way as peaceful parents by consciously choosing nonviolent, persuasive, gentle parenting methods instead.
Peaceful Parenting is all about guiding children versus controlling them. Dayna Martin calls it a partnership. She relates to her children as she would with anyone else she enters into partnership with, and treats them with respect. When problems arise, they talk them out, and focus on the cause and solutions to their problems.
In the Peaceful Parenting model, nurturing connections with our children is emphasized rather than punishing them when they don’t behave in ways we like. Peaceful Parenting emphasizes encouraging children and using the power of persuasion and positive role modeling to gently guide children, rather than demanding they do as we say or using intimidation, punishments, or other forms of coercion to get our way. Peaceful parenting requires thoughtfully responding to our children’s needs and issues versus reacting to them out of frustration or anger.
Peaceful Parenting supports a stronger parent-child relationship because it is based on consistent mutual respect and mutual trust.
“Parents today are doing the best they can with what they know, yet many are feeling empty and wondering why their kids do not like them or want to be around them. We hear words like rebellion and chalk it up to normalcy, but what if there was nothing to rebel against? What if we lived the respect for our children that we demand they have for us? What if we could recognize that the punishments model injustice and that through using power to control another person we are teaching them to do the same? It is though loving kindness and understanding that our children learn love and peace and in turn will reflect this back to the world.
Families who live in peace and freedom do not usually deal with rebellion from their children because we are never the wall standing between them and their desires. In fact, we see our role as helping our children get what they want in life. We move from power struggles and control to connection and partnership. When we make this shift, we discover the love and deep feelings of joy that we are naturally meant to experience as parents.”
—Dayna Martin, The Evolution of Children’s Rights
This website, called Beyond Punishment, has compiled a list of helpful websites, blogs, and books for parents looking to learn more about Peaceful Parenting. I hope you’ll spend some time checking it out.
Dr. Laura Markham, another Peaceful Parenting advocate created a website called Aha! Parenting, which has resources available for every stage of parenthood, from pregnancy and birth all the way through the teenage years! You can check it out here. She also wrote a book called Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting that’s definitely worth reading.
It’s time we revolutionize our parenting approaches, and apply the same peaceful and respectful principles we use in dealing with others to the ways we parent our children. We must make the conscious choice to consistently respect our children’s self-ownership apply our libertarian values to how we treat our immediate family members.
I hope after reading this post, and checking out the links within, you’ll seriously consider transitioning towards Peaceful Parenting, if you haven’t already.
Additionally, you owe it to yourself to look into Nonviolent Communication. It focuses on solving problems peacefully, through effective communication strategies.
Free your children, and liberate yourself and your household from operating in a manner consistent with domination, coercion, and intimidation. Examine your parenting methods and do away with any parenting tools that don’t align with your values and ethics. And if you choose to make changes, talk to your kids about why you’ve chosen to change your parenting methods. They will appreciate it! I promise.
Don’t just talk about your principles, live them. Be the change you wish to see in the word.
Finally, I’ll close with a section from Khalil Gibran’s beautiful poem, The Prophet. If you haven’t read The Prophet, check it out! It’s lovely! This section is specifically about children and touches on exactly what I’ve been writing about. I hope it inspires you. (The link to the full poem is included below.)
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
—The Prophet by Khalil Gibran