Hey, I’m Brianna, a 14-year-old student from Massachusetts. You may remember me from such things as ‘Dan Fishman’s Auditor Campaign’, tossing out candy along the parade route like a champ. Or Jo Jorgensen’s Presidential campaign just last year. I’m usually the quiet, shy little girl hiding in the corner behind my father at events like that, but I was invited to write a guest article here at People for Liberty about liberty in our communities.
Growing up as the daughter of a libertarian, I’ve been exposed to the ideas and practices that are the cog in a libertarian utopia. Limited government. Individualism. Community. These lessons occur naturally in my life, through everyday conversations with Dad, but the most important lesson that he’s taught me and my sister is this: you lead by example, not through words. As libertarians – people seeking liberty in our lifetime – we need to provide an example of our ideals by living what we preach. A proof of concept for all of the doubters out there.
For me, that has meant volunteering and being involved in our local community. Sure, I engage in the national conversations like many of us do, but libertarianism has a local application first and foremost, and I want to be the leader my community needs.
Every year, my family seeks out opportunities to help others. To be clear, it’s not just something we do at Thanksgiving, but whenever the opportunity arises. My sister and I have been taught that generosity and activism can have a profound impact on our lives, and the lives of others. These lessons started way back when I was 3 years old, selecting toys from my own collection to donate for children who had none. It was a choice that we were given, and we both chose to follow in the footsteps of mom and dad. We were empowered to say yes or no, and then (once we said yes) to decide what toys we were willing to part with. And we enjoyed it.
As we grew, these lessons would begin to encompass random acts of kindness. At restaurants, my father would point out how hard waiters or waitresses work as we ate our meal. He explained to us how their life depended on the generosity of others since they earned through tips. At the end of a meal, he would ask my sister and me, “How much would you pay for this meal with the service we got?”. In hindsight, our answers were wildly absurd, but always took the difference between the higher price and the actual price and leave it as a tip. It wasn’t uncommon to see a $100 tip on an $80 order.
Last Christmas we browsed the local community Facebook groups for people in need of help with Christmas gifts for children and purchased hundreds of dollars in gifts for people we have never even met. Some of the pictures shared in those community groups afterward were images of complete joy on the faces of kids who probably weren’t expecting much for Christmas.
This year, we wanted our contributions to have a direct impact on local families who are in need this Thanksgiving. We partnered with the guidance office in my high school and asked them to identify families who were struggling and in need of assistance. The school identified a number of families and kept their anonymity but let us know how many donations they could use. This morning we delivered entire meals for many families, each donation including a 20-24 pound turkey, a squash, stuffing, a 5-pound bag of potatoes, gravy packets, a pan to cook in, and a pie. We’ll never know who these meals were given to, and they’ll never know where they came from, but it doesn’t matter. Creating positive vibes in our community, as community members and not the government, is how we spread the wildfires of liberty.
We’ve done what we can to touch the hearts of our community – to brighten the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves, even if just for a day.
This leads me to the main point of this article – libertarianism and the ideals that we live by require engagement, not force. To drive further engagement, we need to be engaged ourselves. We need to show our community that this works and that we can take care of each other without government coercion. There are responsibilities that we carry if we want these ideas to flourish, and first on that list is that we must support our local communities. Some of us will be able to help in some ways, while others will be able to help in other ways. Selling people the idea of pure liberty won’t work if we only seek to educate them through text and speeches. We need to be the example. We need to show them that it works.
Not everybody has the means to rush out and spend several hundred dollars. You don’t need to. Start a food drive and foster a community movement to help those in need. Volunteer at a local community action center. Volunteer to coach a local sports team. Organizing and making effort doesn’t have to cost you a penny.
Growing up in a libertarian family has provided many life lessons, but those closest to my heart are the ones that allow me to help others. After all, helping each other isn’t a political thing. Liberty isn’t about politics. In my house, we put people before politics, and we’re all the better for it.
What are you doing to make your community better this season? Let us know!