I'm not sure when it was that I first saw a video by Stefan Molyneux, or if it was the first one, or one after that where he "instructed" me regarding the "Non-Aggression Principle." Nevertheless, when I got it, I GOT IT and afterwards I knew I didn't want to work for the Federal Government anymore; i.e. directly as an actual federal employee or indirectly as a worker in a civilian job that ignorantly claimed that I was a federal employee (i.e. all of them). (More about Stefan Molyneux at: http://freedomainradio.com/.)
Granted, I "did my time" working from a different point of view. In 1999 I joined the Navy. My reasons for doing so were these: 1) I saw it as an opportunity to get some much needed "parenting" that I had not had in my life; i.e. the "mothering" of food, clothing, and shelter, as well as the "fathering" of structure and discipline. 2) I had taken on a spiritual practice that encouraged me to a) orient my life towards service, b) get my "functional human life" in order, and c) learn to Be Happy in all circumstances and all relations. I saw the U.S. Military giving me an opportunity to "practice" all of these disciplines. Furthermore, I learned from my Guru that "It's All God", so there was no reason for me to dissociate myself from one part of reality, in this case the U.S. Military, or see it as "evil" or "not part of" the whole Play of God in the world. I accepted the fact that death was a part of life, and in the end, everything gets sacrificed. In addition, 3) I felt it was better for me to take what I looked at as my "higher consciousness" into the "belly of the beast", rather than stand completely apart from it "pointing fingers"... so to speak. And finally, 4) I really did believe whole-heartedly in supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and all the Personal Liberties it was written to protect.
I went to work for the Navy as an electronics technician. That's right - an Electronics Technician - something I would never have chosen to do voluntarily under any other circumstances. My background and I dare say my "talents" are in Social Science, Psychology...you know, people-oriented stuff - not technology. But, my test scores were (for the most part) high enough. And my recruiter was a really nice guy (we are still friends to this day), and he was an Electronics Technician, so I knew I would have his shoulder to cry on if I needed it (and, I think I did a few times). Furthermore, I accepted that when it came to orienting my life towards service, it really was about doing what the Navy needed me to do. It wasn't about "me" or "what 'I' wanted to do".
Overall, my eight year tour in the Navy was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. It was also one of the most effective experiences of my life when it came to developing my own Will Power. When you learn to make yourself do something you really don't want to do, and you do that intentionally, day in and day out, without becoming resentful about it, because you are making those decisions voluntarily, it is like exercising a muscle, and it just gets stronger, and stronger, and stronger the more you use it. I would say I was "weak willed" when I first went into the Navy, but after I came out - there was very little that I couldn't handle. Heck, when I finished my sea duty and moved to Maryland for my last duty station, I was working full-time (or more, if you include field exercises), I was going to school, maintaining a 15' x 15' vegetable garden, acting as Vice President of Education (considered the hardest role) for my Toastmasters Club, as well as working as a bike race official on many of my weekends. And on top of all of that, I was preparing almost all of my food from scratch, and averaged about one move per year! Trust me, it took a lot of Will Power to do all of that, and to Be Happy while I was doing it!
Unfortunately, my transition out of the Navy did not go so well. Looking back, I think I actually got a little manic/depressive at that time. My house mate moved out, and I ran into problems getting new house mates. It took forever for my Montgomery GI Bill money to start coming in, even though I was in school full-time. On top of that, I tried starting my own business doing sales copywriting and I just got in way over my head before I knew it with expenses related to that. Nevertheless, I plodded on, got married to help with the housing situation, but that didn't work out as expected. I moved three more times before I was actually able to stay in one place for two years. It was during that time that I finally finished my degree in Social Science, while still working full-time and commuting at least a couple of hours every day. I was almost always late for work on Mondays, because I was too busy catching up on all the work I had to do over the weekends, just getting laundry done, and shopping for groceries, and getting my food ready to pack in my lunch bag for the next week. And on top of all of that, I knew I wanted to be writing, I knew I had more to offer to the world, but I just didn't have the time.
And then, sometime, early this year, I came across the video of Stefan Molyneux. In addition, I finished reading a book by Peter Hendrickson, Cracking the Code: The Fascinating Truth About Taxation in America (more about that here: http://lost horizons.com/Cracking_the_Code.htm). I already knew about some of it, but between the two of them, the hypocrisy and fraud and violence of the system I was a part of finally hit home. In addition, what had been a "contractor" job at NIH for me was converted into a "GS" position (i.e. an actual Federal Government job) and in that transition window, I was able to collect the "retirement money" that my contractor had been putting into a mutual fund for me over the previous two-and-a-half years. Minus taxes, it totalled about $15,000.
It was the first time I had ever had that much "cash in hand" at one time. It was the first time in a long time I felt I could "do whatever I wanted to do". The one thing that was definitely at the top of my list was to attend Tom Brown Jr.'s "Tracker/Survival School". But as I thought more about that, I realized that the other thing I really wanted to do was to ride my bicycle across the country. But, of course, that would mean quitting my job. In fact, that would mean making some Really Major Changes in my life. That would mean my kind of "putting myself out there" and seeing what would happen.
But...apparently, given where I am today, I was "ready" to do that. And given the will-power I had developed in all the years before, I proceeded to do what I set my mind and heart to doing. Granted, it has taken a little longer than I thought it would to actually get on the road, but what I have found in the mean time is that, for one thing, I have more time to write now, which is something I have been wanting to do for years, and years, and years.
(See also: http://thebluemoonturtleblog.blogspot.com/)
Furthermore, I totally appreciate that I have shelter (besides my tent) because of the hospitality of a friend, and I will have to continue to rely on the hospitality of other friends and maybe even some strangers in the future. I've used up more of my financial resources than I thought I would, but, honestly, I'm not completely "broke" yet. I'm not desperate. I'm not starving, and as of this writing, I've been un-employed for three months. It's probably the longest period of "un-employment" that I've experienced in years.
But that doesn't mean I've stopped "working". No, I'm still "working." I've been "working" to get all the rest of my gear ready for my trip. I've still been "working" to prepare my own food and wash my clothes. I've been doing some "work" helping my friend with her cats, as well as sharing how to make green smoothies and my special "Egg Fried Rice". I even spent some time "working" to build a debris shelter after Irene came through, much to the pleasure of some of the neighborhood children and their mothers (not to mention the tree removal crews who got to see the whole demonstration first hand, from beginning to end : )).
What I know I haven't been doing is contributing (significantly) to a violent government (since I still have to buy some fuel, etc. I am still paying sales taxes). And, I hope with all of my heart that I can continue to avoid doing that as much as humanly possible from now on. As I have said to others, at this point in my life, I would rather die then try to force someone directly or indirectly to let me live at their expense, and that certainly includes working as a "Federal Employee." That doesn't mean I'm not open to VOLUNTARY support from others, but I will not be taking any money from a government that is forcefully taking it from others. In fact, I will not even be looking to receive any more of the benefits I am "entitled to" as a veteran. (And, for the record, I have not received any "refunds" of my taxes during the entire time that I was a member of the U.S Military or while I worked as a contractor or federal employee.)
So as far as my "debt to society" is concerned, (and in general, whatever "debt" I might seem to owe to the credit industry), I feel I've already slaved for all of them the last 20+ years of my life, and I've decided the next 20+ years are mine (if I live that long), to live Freely and Peacefully. Just because I will not be participating in a conventional "job" doesn't mean I won't be working. But it is my Life's Work I want to do now, while I still have some Life (and energy) left to do it.
And I hope that Stefan Molyneux is right: I hope there is something fundamentally RIGHT and UNIVERSAL about living according to the principle of Non-Aggression. I see it as going hand-in-hand with the Law of Love and I know That Law is Really THE LAW of this "Land" - this "Reality" that we are all sharing. I'm more than willing to be held accountable for my living according to the Principle of Non-Aggression and the Law of Love - but as for laws that are inherently aggressive and have been created by an inherently violent government...Not so much!
I guess you could say, I no longer believe in the "power of government" - I do however believe in the Power of Love and the Principle of Non-Aggression.
Yours in Peace and Freedom...
Pedaling for Peace
On April 15, 2012 I started riding my bicycle cross-country from Jacksonville, Florida in voluntary support of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) and the work of author and Peace Leadership Director for the NAPF, Paul K. Chappell. By July 4th, I had covered over 1300 miles to just west of Luling, Texas where a major mechanical failure brought this first stage of my cross-country journey to an end. After storing my bicycle and trailer with my aunt and uncle in Weatherford, Texas, I flew from Dallas to Santa Barbara, California to attend the NAPF First Annual Peace Leadership Summer Workshop. I then lived and worked in Santa Barbara for several more months before I returned to Jacksonville and sold off the rest of my possessions that I could to help fund a continuation of my journey. Starting June 8, 2013 and ending August 9, 2013, I rode from Weatherford, through 400 miles of the central Texas hill country, including Austin, Texas, back to Luling. It was at this point that a friend of mine invited me to work for a brief period in Pennsylvania before flying me back to Santa Barbara where I continued volunteering for the NAPF as well as for the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. As of August 9th, 2014 I began"Stage III" of my cross-country adventure, this time heading south from Santa Barbara to San Diego and then east to El Paso, TX. It was there that illness, winter weather, and diminishing resources brought that leg of my journey to an end. After staying with another friend in Columbus, GA for several months, I moved "back home" to Kentucky to stay with my dad for a while and build a better "resource base" for future endeavors including review and further tracking and primitive survival skills training at Tom Brown, Jr's Tracker School , and a possible longer tour of the east coast, northern tier, and north west coast back down to Santa Barbara, CA.