(My Eastern New Mexico News column from June 7, 2017- posted in its entirety now that the paper's exclusivity has expired)
A well-lived life is a journey to be a better person than the person you were yesterday. Perhaps, In the process, even to leave the world a little better for your having been here. How will you go about it?
I suppose it depends on how you define "better person". You can't get there without knowing where you want to go. Nor can you get there by going in the opposite direction.
To me, being a 'better person" means being kind when you can. It means not being a burden on others; not stealing from them or trespassing on their property. It means not using violence against those who aren't attacking or robbing others. It also means no justification for doing those things, no matter what. All your interactions will be voluntary ones and you don't impose yourself on others. The name for this way of living among others is "libertarianism".
Libertarianism makes me a better person. I am not there yet, but I believe I'm a little closer every day.
It can help you, too, no matter what else also inspires you to be the best person you can be. Libertarianism is a perfect fit with all decent behavior, and completely at odds with everything which might stand in your way of being a better person. All honorable religion, codes, and ethics are libertarian at heart. When applied consistently, libertarianism shines a light into the dark nooks and crannies some people try to hide from their proclaimed values. It leaves no room for contradictions.
Yet, many people have been taught to be suspicious of libertarianism; to mischaracterize it and fear its consequences. Not surprisingly, this suspicion is encouraged by people who don't want to be thought of as the bad guys while doing bad things.
Maybe someone honestly believes living by theft and aggression makes them a better person, particularly when legalized and called by more respectable names. If so, I question their definition of "better person". To me, it seems they want to be a bully while feeling good about their behavior. Until I am forced to defend myself from them, I won't waste much effort arguing their point.
Those who want me to doubt that voluntary acts, self ownership, and individual responsibility are the best, most moral and ethical way to live among others are asking me to believe theft, aggression, superstition, and slavery might be better. I won't believe that's true. I can't.