The Preachings of a Liberal | Opinion

Since this is my last year at university, and my last column for Critic, it seems fitting to use this space to impart some of the wisdom that I have obtained over the years. This wisdom is the end product of my various achievements – and numerous disappointments – first as a Christian, and a socialist, and now as an atheist, a libertarian, and a gay man.

Nothing has changed since the first post: I still love liberty. For in an environment of liberty, thoughtful people are released from the shackles of convention and are forced not only to contemplate, but also to pursue, the good life. Here are six life lessons such an environment has taught me:

1. Don’t take advantage of someone’s ignorance; be honest. Deceit is undoubtedly expedient in certain situations, but love and meaningful accomplishments are built on foundations of trust. For that reason, treat your own trust as sacred and revocable. Walk away from abuse.

2. Exercise your own judgement, but do not lean blindly on your own opinion. Remember that your judgement will only ever be as good as the information you have and know you can trust.

3. Let every decision you make sustain or invigorate your creative potential, or inspire creativity in others. The creation of goods and services helps people. Free markets will not automatically take care of such requirements, and the state sure as hell won’t get it right.

4. Trade. Do not take without giving or, at the very least, offering something in return. Of course we sometimes get stuck and need help, so by all means ask, but always be ready to give back.

5. Do no harm, speak up for the downtrodden, and stand in solidarity with your fellow humans. This one always got me in trouble at school, and I have never looked back in regret.

6. Think about things. Don’t just take my word for it – or anyone else’s, for that matter. And while you may believe you are at the centre of everything, take a moment to remind yourself that you live on a giant ball of iron whizzing through a crowded cosmos.

Congratulations to this year’s graduands. Having experienced some of the real world myself, I realise that all of this – as is the case with any advice – will be easy to forget, and will be subject to exceptions. That is why we must always practice thinking about the major things, as well as the minor.

Thanks for reading!
This article first appeared in Issue 26, 2013.
Posted 4:26pm Sunday 6th October 2013 by Guy McCallum.