I have a lot I want to pursue this year. I wanted to begin filming and posting fishing videos for the first time this year, something offering a unique angle to the angling community. I’ve really been looking forward to this – a change of pace and something innovative to introduce. I’ve been very much looking forward to finding each of the thirty varieties of edible mushroom I pursue in their respective seasons. I’ve been looking forward to the spring walleye season, a time to pursue a fish whose movements between local streams and rivers has become very familiar to me over the last few years.
I want to wander away into wild places with all the same curiosity with which I pursued such things at the age of ten. I want to learn relentlessly because there’s no end to that – no possibility of finding one day that I know it all. I want to learn from books, yes, but I wish for the wildest places to remain my most formative classrooms. I, like the rest of us, need the inculcation of wildness. I wrote a book about this once.
These are the things I like to pursue and the things I tend to write about on this blog. But I also let it be known herein that I’m a libertarian, a lover of libertarian ideals the foremost of which, obviously enough, is liberty itself. Usually this remains a sort of subscript to my writing here on The Dying Fish but over the last year it has with greater regularity come to the forefront. I have chosen to prioritize this over and over again in 2020 and 2021 because of the unprecedented incursions against liberty we’ve all witnessed under the pretext of a coronavirus. Even in a normal political climate, however, it has become important for me to take a stand for libertarian ideals from time to time as the environment has become too often conflated with leftist ideals.
So, starting out in the spring of 2021, I want to fish and hunt mushrooms and write about it all but I don’t think my conscience would let me rest if I made these my priority while the civilization that has allowed me so much freedom and such a good life is under assault. Simply put, I’m compelled to fight back. This is the time for Americans to take a stand against authoritarianism. This is the time to tell the burgeoning federal government, “no!,” if only to cultivate the healthy practice of saying “no!” to government. I feel like I want to wander away into the woods, to cast flies and explore but my conscience tells me that this is a time to rally, to fight for the values of the liberal west and to engage in civil disobedience, this too in keeping with the ideas of the archetype naturalist Thoreau.
Liberty comes first. Government intrudes by degrees on the liberties of others and we too often say nothing or give our assent, thinking that we’re not the ones impacted. But in so doing we enlarge the domain of what’s governable and set a precedent of complacency, a precedent not unnoticed by those who would become our overlords. Having watched the precedent-setting events of 2020, no one should doubt this. And sooner or later, if we have helped to expand the powers of government, that same power will be used against the liberties we hold dear. Indeed, the history of the Twentieth Century shows that this power will sweep up lands and livelihoods and lives if not kept in check.
As libertarians and conservatives, we’d like to mind our own business. We want to tend to our own property, take care of our families and pursue personal development and fulfillment in a thousand ways. In humility, we doubt our ability to govern the lives others, to know what’s best for them. Life’s fulfillment comes from designing our own grand designs and pursuing them to whatever extent we’re able while not infringing on the rights of our neighbors. We want to do good but we don’t want good deeds to be mandated. We want to keep what’s ours and for government to serve chiefly as a guarantor of those few but vital enumerated human rights we each hold claim to.
We want to flee the realm of politics with all its machinations and disingenuity to occupy greener pastures or cabins in the forest and hence keep our minds on better things. But as we do so, the illiberal left still advances, chipping away at the edges of sacred liberties or maybe taking great leaps toward their utopia, which is certainly a place in which the power is theirs. We, most Americans, would be content to mind our own business and turn our backs on all the evil at work in the vicinity of Washington D.C. but the leading edge of the American left is always advancing, always pushing an agenda that might surficially include race, social justice and environmental progress but invariably increases their hold on the reins of power.
All this is to say that I can’t feel good about going on with business as usual (though one might say that defense of liberty should be business as usual for true libertarians.)
So, about the beginning of 2021, I found myself considering the current crisis of liberty and wondering what I could do about it. Certainly, if this were a historic crisis for the American way of life, I needed to do the most I possibly could and I wondered what that was. I certainly was not content to do my fighting from the keyboard.
So, departing about March 20th, I will drive to Washington State where I will sell my car and begin a long walk to Washington D.C. I will carry with me a list of fifteen significant grievances again our federal government, asking Americans along the way to endorse this with signatures as I march east. The list can also be signed online at my new site http://www.marchofliberty.com (online by March 23) and there is also an open invitation to all Americans to walk some portion of the 3,200 mile hike with me. It would be nice not to be alone as I bring this to the doors of the capitol building but I’m committed to completing this alone if no-one else sees the value I do in the endeavor.
It’s just the best idea I’ve got and the most I can imagine doing for the most important cause I know. It’s about matters of principle. I don’t claim to know what the outcome’s likely to be but I will know that I can say I did all I could at this time when asked what I did in 2021 many years from now.
I may be able to write here occasionally as I progress across America but don’t expect too much – it will be sporadic and uncharacteristically concise. You can track my current location, find details or contribute to the cause at the project’s site http://www.marchofliberty.com.