This is my inaugural blog post as the Liberty Pirate and it is Veteran’s Day 2015. I am an Army infantry veteran. And those that know that fact about me are likely to thank me “for my service” today. I am likely to say, “you’re welcome”. And that is the polite thing to do. However, it might come as a shock to know I did not serve you in any way. Furthermore, had I lost my life, it would not have been a sacrifice on your behalf.
You see, I believe in the principles of Liberty enshrined in the founding of this nation. I understand that they have been imperfectly implemented but this was the first nation to even try. And I believe that those principles are worth defending. In fact, I believe they are worth the risk of my life. As Patrick Henry famously said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” As they say on license plates in New Hampshire – Live Free or Die. I think that those principles are probably worth the risk of your life as well but only if they are your principles and that is for you to decide.
We throw around terms like “service” and “sacrifice” without ever stopping to think about whether these terms are accurate or why we, as a national culture, use them. We muddy the term sacrifice and use it incorrectly. If I give up one dollar to get five, I sacrificed nothing. If I bunt and get out so that my team can win the baseball game, I sacrificed nothing even though we call that a “sacrifice” in baseball. The trading of a lesser value for a greater value is not a sacrifice. We treat the term “service” in a similar manner. If I am doing something for my own gain or benefit, I am not serving you.
So my willingness to risk my life for the principle of liberty was neither sacrifice nor service. I did so for me. I would rather die fighting than live as a slave. And that is true whether or not the rest of you even exist. Furthermore, that commitment did not end when I took off my uniform and any future enemies, either foreign or domestic, would discover this to be the case.
Some have estimated that only 3% of the colonial population actively participated in the American Revolution. I suspect that they did not view their efforts as either service or sacrifice. Many of them were dedicated to liberty and were unwilling to live as subjects of a tyrannical king. So why, as a national culture, do we bandy these terms about? I suspect there are two reasons. First, those that are not willing to risk their lives for liberty’s sake feel either guilt about the fact that others are doing it for them or gratitude toward those others and are looking for a way to express it. To those whose lives are more valuable than liberty, the fact that others are risking their own lives appears to be a sacrifice. And second, it is in the state’s best interests to build up a philosophy of sacrifice and service because that actually runs counter to the principles of liberty and bolster’s the state’s role in society. So the state seeks to develop a national patriotic cult of service and sacrifice. This helps the state when it demands actual human sacrifice. In our country it has done this during major wars by implementing the draft. The forcing or coercion of people to fight for their country is a form of involuntary servitude and is contrary to the principles of liberty (and outlawed by the US Constitution). Those who are forced to serve deserve more than gratitude, they deserve apology. Those who were forced to serve and who died doing it were truly sacrificed. While I value my liberty enough to risk my life, I do not value it enough to sacrifice yours. If a nation dedicated to liberty cannot survive without involuntary military servitude then it no longer deserves to survive. Let it fall and let those who are dedicated to liberty continue to fight on.
So, to those who were forced into involuntary servitude by our nation, you have my apology. For those who served knowingly and voluntarily, out of principle, I’ll just give you a knowing nod when I see you.