Thursday, August 28, 2008
I don't know anything about libertarianism, so please forgive my ignorance if my question is old or silly.
If libertarianism is about being able to do what you want without hurting anyone, how do you define what hurt is? And who gets to decide?
For instance, you could say that shooting heroin isn't hurting anyone (except maybe the person shooting) but couldn't there also be an argument made that (if the person is on a downward spiral) are being hurt (or could be depending on the situation)? Or even in a larger context, the issues of the drug trade in general (largely because it is illegal and therefore part of an informal unregulated market, etc) -- violence, poverty, etc -- can the drug user be absolved of these kinds of 'hurts' if they are implicated in it?
I am certainly not against drug use and actually support decriminalizing drugs, but not because of libertarian views. In fact the same argument above could be used in cases of alcoholism, etc etc.
I guess my question comes down to, who decides what qualifies as hurt?
great writing by the way, very interesting.
You are very astute! I guess (on a personal level, I can’t speak for everyone who identifies themselves as a libertarian) I use this view more politically. As a simple definition:
A libertarian is someone who, in general, supports government policies that favor individual liberty in all matters and seek to minimize or even abolish the state.
'Libertarian' is an antonym of 'authoritarian', so I hope that better explains my position. On the subject of drugs (i.e. your heroin example) the political libertarian in me says that drugs should be legalized and taxed appropriately, the revenue would easily cover not only the health costs of addicts but also recovery programs that will be well funded enough to actually help (I feel this way about prostitution as well)
You make a good point when you bring up “the people who love that person”, however, I don’t really think that matters. Many people who love me disagree with my choices, that doesn’t mean what they think is what is best or fair. I smoke pot, I’m really sorry my mother disagrees with this (mostly because it is not “legal”) and thinks it is ruining my life but it comes down to being my choice and I am not forcing her to smoke pot so I can’t see any reason why I shouldn’t. On the other hand some addicts have dependants, I don’t think a mother of two should be shooting up everyday, I also don’t think she should drink everyday… These are just things that happen in life, people get addicted to things (legal or not) and again, if these drugs were legalized taxed and then the taxes were used for recovery programs I like to think it would be easier to get readily available and funded help. Right now the crack addicted mom can’t afford to get help, she can't take the time off the low paying job she has to really clean herself up, but if there were programs where she was removed from her familiar addictive lifestyle and was ensured that her children would be well taken care of and she wouldn’t lose her job upon return, quitting would likely be much easier. I am not living in a fantasy world where I think this is how all addictions will turn out, this is the ideal solution but so many things in life don’t fall into an ideal. There will always be addicts, there will always be homeless, all we can do is strive to find the best system that can help people who want to help themselves.
On a more basic level in my personal life I try to live by similar standards (do what I want, as long as I don’t hurt anyone) In these situations I’m the one who decides what qualifies “hurt”, this may be a slippery slope but so is any sort of moral ground. I try to keep things objective but inevitably I end up with a bit of a bias towards one side, but who else can I really trust to make those moral decisions for me? I won’t tell my mom I smoke pot everyday because I love her and I know it would make her worry (or “hurt” her) but that doesn’t mean I agree with her or will stop smoking pot. I guess to an extent I take it for granted that people have common sense, I forget that some people have no sense at all… At the end of the day it’s my common sense that helps me decide what is “good” or “bad”, in the looses use of those terms. I don’t know if that actually answers your question but hopefully it’s enough of a digression to understand my opinion.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Before I had any idea what a real relationship was like I always wondered how you could cheat on someone if you really loved them. I saw it all around me, every time someone would stray they would say “I only love you”, “I still love you”, or “I took them back because they love me”. It’s not that I ever thought of sex as love, I’ve had sex with far more people than I’ve ever loved, I know the difference, but rather it was that I couldn’t understand completely deceiving the person who was supposed to be everything to you, going outside of the known emotional boundaries you both had set. But really, it’s little more than any other incident of the numerous betrayals or lies every relationship swarms with and it was jut my conservative catholic upbringing screaming in the back of my head that this lie was somehow worse than all others.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder and familiarity breeds contempt weren’t just said without reason, they were felt. Nothing ruins a relationship like “love”, love means this person bears all to you, all their nasty inner workings, their dark history and expects you to see them the same way and vice versa. Love is boring, it’s doing the same things everyday with the same person, that’s why people go on vacations together and come back “more in love then ever” or separated, they either remember what doing new things together is like or realize there’s more out there for them.
Cheating seems to be a betrayal of the whole point of being in a relationship, which seems to be keeping each other away from other people. What a strange ideal, what a cruel goal. Much to my chagrin I suffer from jealousy just as everyone else. I can’t reason myself out of it, Like so many hack musicians, I can’t tell my feelings how to feel. With all my evolutionary advances I can’t control the rage at the thought of someone else taking what is only ”mine”. “Mine” is the problem, when you have few things you value, that are only “mine”; the costs of losing them go up. Being poor keeps people afraid, afraid to think new things, afraid to stray from the already paved road to success, and afraid to lose what they already have. Going back to the days when we lived in caves and on plains and protected our mates because in was safer in a family and children took so long to become adults. Most of us share the hardship of surviving with our ancient relatives but those who don’t have an easier time losing things or people because if that happens they still have others, they can still survive. Swingers are usually pretty comfortable in the other aspects of their life, professionally, physically, financially.
To overcome this wired in understanding is surely an innovation of the mind, to tell your feelings what to feel, to reason with emotion. This is not something that comes easily; this is altering the way we think, giving up everything we were thought, beyond that, feel. I can see the logic, I can understand it, but how do you work a feeling a certain way? Can you just talk yourself into it if you talk loud enough for long enough? Do you have to completely alter everything in your life to make up for this new thought process? Is it a complete life change?
So everyone is supposed to be able to do anything they want as long as they’re not hurting anyone when they do it. I have always tried to live my life with this philosophy, it’s the most surefire way to be a “good” person. What I skipped over in my young ideological mind was the part where someone you love is doing something that isn’t hurting anyone but you still don’t like it.
So here I am questioning all my morality simply because suddenly the “right” thing doesn’t feel “right”. I want the ideological existence I strived to be, I never want to feel anger, jealousy, isolation, or vengeance because I feel like they are a waste of my time. Anyone can be gone at any time and the years have left me a paranoid coward, not the unshakable girl I was as a teenager. I want to be the kind of person that can hear almost anything and be okay with it, or at least see it in a new point of view.
I’m working on the jealous part now, vengeance was never much of a problem, I’m still angry sometimes but it’s not out of hand at all, it’s just the closeness, which I suppose was a “problem” before if the past is any indicator. I always pull away, does everybody? It’s weird, no one likes pulling away or being distant, but it always happens to me. So is this what it’s like for everyone? Are you really always alone in the end like every person who wants to sound tough says? It’s so weird that we can be aware of our surroundings and fellow animals and yet be the only ones that really understand “alone”. Dogs try to die alone, most animals do if they can help it, why is that? Is that like trying to save their relatives from moving or moving the body from their living space? Maybe they are giving themselves back to the earth, like leaving behind everything they had in life and going off alone to offer their body’s to whatever passing animal really needs an easy meal that day.
Maybe all my problems do stem from this weird death complex, do the majority think about dying everyday. Everything I plan to do depends on how I feel about death that day. It’s weird, I feel like my old self, my apathetic 17 year old self that just thought about death and how hollow everyone and everything in life was. Someone I would laugh at now.
Back to the matter at hand I guess, how do you support all these things you so strongly believe in when they all seem hollow anyway? I feel like I don’t want or need anybody because they aren’t really there at the end anyway and no matter how special you think your connection is there are a million just like it and it could happen with any one of many people who share your obvious values and interests. It’s easy to make it work, all you do is say sorry when you give up, and if it works on the other levels, food, shelter, electronics, then eventually everyone says sorry and they pat themselves on the backs for being grown ups. Such a strange world we live in, people still believe in life after death, that love is an actual emotion, and the atomic family, we are one tenth of a billionth degree from reaching absolute zero when all atoms stop and we slowed down the speed of light and the majority of people still think they will shed their mortal coil and acend to paradise!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I was on my way to a punk rock show the summer right after I graduated high school; I was young, single, and swimming in heat and hormones. I coursed my way from the depths of Scarborough on the Rapid Transit system, the only one on the car at 10pm on a Saturday night. I was headed Downtown towards the 360 (when that still existed as a venue) Another passenger got on at Midland, a tall, cute redhead with (GASP!) baggy jeans, 1 inch pins, and a news boy cap. I immediately couldn’t tear my eyes away, all the confidence I had walked onto that car with was quickly fleeing from within. Then, the glances. The nervous glances that make your belly swirl with possibility. Finally the half hand wave and I was his. He was headed the same way as me on the subway and we sat together, talking about music and anything else we could grasp at. I told him where I was headed and he was thrilled to find someone in Scarborough who went to live music shows. I told him about the band (my favorite one at the time) and the show and just when we were leaning in, enthralled with every word we heard from each other he realized he was at his stop and in a panic rushed away with a quick goodbye. I was so disappointed, I was sure it would end up on some “missed connection” page.Cut to the end of the night, I had just watched my favorite band put on one of the best shows I had ever seen. I felt so good, I was 18 and there alone because I was figuring out my freedom, realizing I didn’t need anything or anyone else to do the things I wanted to do, go downtown, see a band, make new friends. And as we filtered out of the now closing Legionnaires Hall there he was again. I was so confused to why or how he was there, He had got off the train 15 stops ago and I hadn’t mentioned where the show was. He told me he had got off the train and immediately regretted it, he stayed in the station leafing through a NOW magazine trying to find a show listing for the band I was talking about because he had to see me again and figured he wouldn’t get another chance otherwise.It was 2am, already past my curfew (especially since my parents didn’t know I had a fake ID, but it was summer and I didn’t care anyway) I took his outstretched hand and we walked east along Queen Street until we found a park. We lay in the grass and talked with the haze of alcohol and marijuana , we talked about music, politics, spirituality, and all the things you talk about when you have all night with one person and you think you need to know everything about them. And then when we ran out of things to say, that’s when the kissing came. It was the kind of urgent kissing only teenagers and people who shouldn’t be kissing can understand, when touching knees is explosive, when the stars are your only audience. My phone was ringing off the hook, my terrified mother at 5 am, I knew I had to leave, the sun would be up so soon. He came with me, all the way back into Scarborough on the empty blue-light, even though he lived somewhere in the beaches. We knew, like every teenager that has a surreal night that we had found something in each other, something to hang onto, our heads where in the clouds. My stop surprised us what seemed like hours after we decided to head home and this time I was the one rushing off, reality was starting to sink in, the sun was up, it was almost 7 am and I needed a story for my parents! I skipped towards the door barely able to pull my face from his, my heart smeared all over my sleeve and face. I gave him the coy “call me” line, one foot already out the door and as my other foot touched pavement I heard him call back “Wait! I don’t have your number!” That was it, I never saw him again. I was really upset for a sometime afterwards but soon I was 19, summer was over and I was meeting new people, playing in my own band and like so many other things about high school and being a teenager he was forgotten. I’ll always have a great summer fling story and I’ll always remember what it’s like to be 18, impulsive, and totally in love for 12 hours.