- Individuals over Groups
- Progress over Protecting what we have
- Interiors (beliefs) over Exterior behaviors and institutions, and most important
- Voluntary compliance over Legal Enforcement
But I was an unusual libertarian in that I was already into personal growth work and alternative spirituality—1st person God. The cross-over was that my highest value was choice in both religion and politics—not only because freedom to choose feels morally right, but because it is through watching the effects of our choices that we grow. And growth was the real goal.
Dropped in the Blender
Then came the series of events chronicled in my book--being dropped into an extraordinary black fundamentalist church simultaneously with discovering Ken Wilber's integral map of reality. Like falling into a blender set to "whip." Living among people whose lives were emerging from red to blue, (in Spiral Dynamics that means raw power to rules and roles), I saw how besieged they were by drugs, alcohol, porn and worse. And then of course, came the world financial meltdown--fueled essentially by gambling run amok.
I became more aware of the harm to the community of these "consensual acts," as we libertarians like to call the vices. If voluntary compliance can't fully protect us from these, what can?
Capping harm to innocent bystanders
One answer is a very specific kind of regulation that caps harm to innocent bystanders--like laws against drunk driving. In the case of the financial meltdown, I have to confess along with former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan that we were wrong in one piece of deregulation--the one that permitted mortgages to be turned into poker chips (via securitization, making stocks out of them--but I'm still sticking to my libertarian guns that several other regulations helped cause the problem.) The idea of capping harm to bystanders still doesn't mean I think we should jail drug users. But it does soften me to the idea we should jail drug sellers--after all other means of information, inspiration, mediation, rehabilitation, and yes, charity have been exhausted. (And even regarding voluntary charity, I'm softening to the idea that our modern era has stripped away most of the traditions that support it, leaving no recourse at this stage but forcing it via taxes.)
The real trouble is we humans find it too hard to use voluntary means. But my new fundamentalist friends had a stunning answer to one part of the problem: community intervention as laid out in Matthew 18:15-17
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.As a libertarian I got a huge laugh about the "tax collector," but I stopped laughing when that line was interpreted as "be polite on the street but stop inviting him to dinner." It made SENSE. It starts with personal responsibility and then builds to a community approach in a very conscious way. It also fits everything I believe about the value of clean interpersonal communication. "We are willing to say what's hard to say and willing to hear what's hard to hear" is how I put it in the personal ad that netted my husband.
A Difficult Ideal to Live up to
Of course, the final step of intervention in the scripture above requires that everyone be a member of a church—or at least a community of shared values. And most of us left churches for applying this solution poorly—with judgment, hypocrisy, and shame. What would it look like if it were applied with love, humility, and dignity? I saw it once, and it took my breath away. In my book I recount interventions on drug abuse, spouse abuse, and out-of-wedlock pregnancy. They weren't all handled perfectly. But the ones that were gave me a new vision of what's possible—in community, with action, and based on a sacred tradition.
Integrating the Opposites
So today, I still believe voluntary means are best for achieving our goals. But I'm more interested in balancing the other parts of the equation: integrating concern for groups with those of individuals, protecting useful traditions while making progress, and taking action while shifting attitudes. And the biggest integration of all, of course, is integrating a sense of the sacred with everything else.
Thus I am feeling less comfortable calling myself a libertarian these days, and more comfortable as a "transpartisan"—one whose political views cross or transcend political parties. But my idea of transpartisan is not a mushy compromise on everything. It is a sharp-edged insistence on integrating the best of everything. And that is why I also call myself an Integralist.