We have approached the time of year where every blogger with a keyboard and opinion decides they should tell everyone else how they should improve themselves for the upcoming year. I hope to bypass all such pretension and give you this list of resolutions not from a place of authority, but rather a place of need. All of the below resolutions are things I have found myself lacking in and wish to improve on myself.
I hope you find these resolutions helpful, and can use them to make yourself a better, more effective activist.
1. Don’t take politics so seriously
The consequences of politics and policy are of unparalleled importance in our world today. However, most of us have absolutely no control over the outcomes of these things. Therefore constant frustration and upset over these things is utterly absurd.
Nothing disgusts, terrifies, and enrages me as much as hearing the newest Orwellian breach of privacy perpetrated by the NSA. I have no control over how the destroy my privacy, but if I let myself go to bed angry over their actions, or let them constantly keep me down, they win a battle much more significant than the privacy of my emails.
They may be able to control my cell phone, but I refuse to let them control my heart. This does not mean that we should give up the fight for liberty all together and simply accept the state’s crimes, but instead that we should accept our limitations and not let our frustration with politics bleed into our personal lives.
2. Don’t let politics become your identity
Don’t have people know you only as ‘that libertarian guy’ or ‘that political activist’. Educating people about political issues is important, and if you annoy them to death with your beliefs you’re being counter productive. Politics is one of the most caustic things on the planet, and there is no need to overindulge in it.
Don’t let your beliefs affect any of your personal relationships, and don’t let it stop you from enjoying art made by those with different beliefs. Basically, don’t be the guy that refuses to go see a movie because the director is a liberal. It accomplishes absolutely nothing, and makes you and your ideology look bad in the process.
3. Read your opponents philosophers
The other day I found myself in a very strange situation, debating an actual Marxist. Full and flamboyant communists are rare, and while talking with him I found that I was wholly unprepared for the conversation. While he had very little knowledge of free market philosophy, I couldn’t call him out on it because I didn’t know enough about his side’s philosophy. Most of my time is spent fighting mild Socialists and other large govermnet loving stateists, so this encounter with a Marxist caught my by surprise.
I wish I had had a better understanding of his beliefs and a stronger knowledge of his intellectuals and their arguments to more productively and intelligently debate him. Give your opponent’s beliefs more credence. Take the time to learn the strong arguments for their beliefs, and their arguments against your own. This will not only help prepare you for such encounters in the future, but will also help strengthen your own position as well.
4. Read more of your own side’s philosophers
The base of all knowledge and belief is philosophy. If you aren’t familiar with your beliefs philosophers, then you aren’t familiar with your beliefs. Nothing will benefit you so much as strengthening the philosophical foundation for your beliefs.
5. Be realistic about managing your resolutions
Every year I find myself creating a grandiose list of things I want to do to improve myself for the upcoming year; Exercise more, read more, work harder, watch tv less, attain god like enlightenment, seduce and marry Natalie Portman, maybe try yoga again. The problem is the warm happy feeling I get from just creating this list usually ends up being good enough to justify making absolutely no changes to my routine.
Just doing one of these things may be difficult enough. Don’t bury yourself under a heap of hollow resolutions you secretly have no plans on following through on. Honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses as an activist and make changes accordingly.
Follow the author, Patrick Kane, at www.facebook.com/HeroinPuppies or on Twitter @PatVKane