Recently, the National Libertarian Party, by way of Vice Chairman, Arvin Vorha, has received tremendous critisicim from vetrans in response to his insensitive and privileged (yet, logical) remarks in regards to their choice to join the military.
Vetran, Larry Sharpe, who was narrowly edged out by Bill Weld, for the party’s Vice Presidential candidate alongside Gary Johnson in 2016, has been publicly critical of Vorha’s remarks. Sharpe, who agrees with Vorha, that “war is a racket”, disagrees with his pushing the blame towards the individuals who volunteer to serve. Pointing to the unknown circumstances of these youth and the other options, or lack thereof, they had to choose from when they enlisted.
Vorha, has continued to explain that his “blame” is more so rooted in the education of the individuals who volunteer for war, and points to the perceived eagerness (based on statistics showing that the majority of enlisted American soldiers received public education) of publicly educated youth to enlist.
I stand with Vorha in his calls to end the Federal Department of Education, and I stand with his calls to resist contributing to the racket that is the Military Industrial Complex. However, I also think he has unintentionally left the impression that his understanding of our society it’s entirety, is immature and jaded. In contrast to Sharpe, who seemingly has life experience which allows him to see the “gray” in situations like this because he has a broader perspective.
Volunteerism is what brings community and compassion to libertarian philosophy. Libertarians are ok with anything you would expect them to oppose, so long as the individuals participating are doing so voluntarily and not by force.
We have created a society where the act of not “volunteering” is actually punished civilly and even criminally. Technically…paying income tax is voluntary…try that defense on a federal judge and see how far it gets you.
While enlisting in the military is technically voluntary, every U.S. male citizen aged 18 or older is required to register with the Selective Service so if the need arises, participation in war will be forced based on a lottery drawing of your date of birth. Such was the case when we unconstiutionally went to war with Vietnam and the first birthdate drawn was September 14th, my father’s birthday.
It seems the status quo has convoluted the meaning of “voluntary” over the years to suit it’s agenda.
Since removing myself from official Libertarian Party Leadership, I’ve enjoyed living in this space where I once again felt like I had freedom to speak and act without the encumbrance of pleasing the majority of the party at all times…so, I didn’t think much of the public relations mess Vorha was creating until I watched Sharpe trying to clean it up. I immediately recalled a time I spoke to Sharpe in person about my delight in my recent shedding of leadership responsibilities to which he remarked that born leaders will find they can never escape that responsibility. Touché Mr. Sharpe….
Yesterday I was at a homeschool gathering when my toddler ran over to a young man in his 20’s who was in a wheelchair. He told me he was a vetran and had been released a couple of weeks ago from a Vetrans Affairs (VA) hospital.
“The VA treated me great…they saved my life” he said. I was perplexed…it’s not often in my circles, that I hear praises of the VA. I needed to hear more. He told me, in a strong confident voice, about how he originally couldn’t move from his neck down and then they put his spine back together. Now he is expected to recover to the point of being able to use both of his legs again. As I sat there listening and saying little, he continued praising the VA for getting him a van equipped with a wheelchair ramp in just a matter of days after his release and for giving him and his family tablets to communicate on while he was recovering in the hospital.
Finally, after I listened to this brilliant advertisement for Vetran Affairs, I told about a group here in Florida, Buds For Vets, and how we work to get veterans safe access to cannabis.
Immediately his tone changed….he started to tear up and reached out his hand and said “thank you”.
Here was this young man who sacrificed his youth, physical well-being, and his mental state for the “interests” of the United States Government. He just gave a pitch for the VA better than I had ever been given by an injured vet…and HE was thanking ME!?
Before I could say anything else….in his new, honest, tone, (and as he illegally lit up a joint in a parking lot of a city park and took a few drags) he told me he needs to stay on cannabis, because when the gravity of the things he has done in the name of obedience hit him, it’s too heavy for him to carry.
Knowing the immorality of most of our military aggression, as well as the healing ability of cannabis, I certainly believed him. I also believe that when he volunteered to serve in the military (and even during his service), he was not fully informed as to what “interests” he would be/was protecting.
As we parted, his words to me were sincere, and powerful. As he looked in the direction of my two-year old son running around in the distance, he nodded towards him and said:
“Make sure you tell that boy of yours the truth about war…no one ever talks about us being the terrorist to the rest of the world….I signed up to be a soilder because it was my ticket out, but I always thought I would come back feeling like a hero and instead it feels like the hero was the person who did this to me…now I realize I signed up to be the bad guy and I didn’t even know it….kids need to know what they are signing up for, that’s all I’m saying”
…and that was all that had to be said.