Gene is an old friend. I haven’t known him well, but as teens, he and I shared a love for freedom; we were both intrigued by librertarian ideas. That might sound like no big deal, but from what I know of him, he is one of the few people I’ve met who really understands the ache in my heart about liberty, the deep longing I have for all people to be free. I’ve learned that I’m odd in this way, and Gene shares my oddity.
But our ways of reaching for freedom have diverged. Near as I can tell, he’s liking the Libertarian approach, whereas I look more like an anarchist of sorts. (The sort that doesn’t think anarchy will fix anything.)
All that is a preface, to tell you that Gene posted a quote on facebook that intrigued me.
“So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another—their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.” Ayn Rand
I read this and remembered how it felt to think that those were the only choices. It’s a feeling that has the comfort of familiarity. But I’m glad to be rid of it.
Another world is possible.
As a Jew, I heard something in Synagogue that blew me away. (I was lucky, in that I hadn’t grown up with it and become numbed to the message. An argument for not subjecting kids to religious education. But I digress.) Here is the message that electrified me:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Because it’s about noticing what’s real and sacred, and sticking with it. It made so much sense to me.
And then I read about loving your neighbor as yourself. This idea isn’t original with Jesus. Plenty of Rabbis around the time he lived talked about this idea, and it’s found in the Hebrew Bible. (In Leviticus, of all places!)
But just when I thought got the whole message, here comes this part:
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
And somehow I knew, “Yes, that. Imma do that.”
But does love work?
I used to hear “Love will fix everything,” and I used to think it was naive. Then I thought maybe it was true. But what Jesus teaches me is that even if it isn’t true, I want to do it anyway. Even if it isn’t effective or the answer, I still want to choose love. And yet…
When I don’t see it as effective, it means I’m measuring by a yardstick that values other things over love, over beauty, over truth. I’m living out — embodying — values of money, security, stuff that’s subject to rust and decay and being taken away when I’m not looking.
That’s not really me. That’s not what I want to embody. I want the yardstick of peace. Or — no — I want to throw away the yardstick, and live in the world where Love wins. The world my teacher calls the Kingdom of Heaven.
Sorry, Ayn. Neither guns nor money open the door to that kingdom.