Stories Behind My Tears: Self Introduction (Essay)

As a subjective reality, one also symbolizes atman, the individual soul. Atman is Brahman in its microcosmic aspect. Atman is the number one hidden in every other number. It is the essence of the eternal One. Hindu scholars are not unanimous about the relationship between atman and Brahman. All agree that both share the same essence and same bliss consciousness, but disagree when they talk about their origin and relationship. According to monistic (advaita) schools Brahman and Atman are one and the same reality and in the end Atman becomes Brahman. The dualistic (dvaita) schools believe that the two are distinct and that though they are the same in essence they never unite, but remain distinct for ever. According to them, an individual soul may achieve self realization but would continue to exist eternally as a separate self.

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Let the voluntaryist boldly preach the doctrine of self-ownership everywhere. Let him seek to persuade the socialist that he has no right to offer comfort and advantage at the price of the sacrifice of personal liberty; that it is quite vain to try to destroy one kind of bondage by building up another in its place; let him persuade the capitalist that all wealth, founded on any kind of state favor or privilege and opposed to free trade, is wealth taken by force from others, and rests on wrong and unjust foundations; let him persuade the members of all churches that it is a travesty and a mockery of their own creed—rightly and simply understood—to attack any kind of moral evil with state punishments; that all such persecutions are in direct conflict with the principles of the Sermon on the Mount, and that Christians, above all men, are bound to fight with the weapons of reason, discussion and persuasion; let him seek to persuade all men, whether rich or poor, employers or employed, men of this country or other countries, that the organization of any kind of material force against each other is a barren and pitiful waste of life—that a victory gained over unwilling bodies and minds is a defeat, and not a victory, that in peace, friendly cooperation, unrestricted experiment, constant difference, almost unlimited toleration as regards the actions of others, free trade in every direction, the increased mobility, life experience and self-protection of the individual, the removal of all compulsory burdens and services, the abandonment of the evil power of mortgaging the faculties of future generations by the present generation, the abandonment of great political inducements for men to struggle with each other, which inducements to war must exist so long as each man desires the possession of power for himself and dreads to see it in the hands of his neighbor, and lastly in the perfect security of person and property, so that the conditions of successful effort may be recognized as constant and persisting—that in these things are the true watchwords of progress, to which it is our duty under every temptation to be faithful. Let us sum up what voluntaryism is—in a few words:

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Anarchy, in the form in which it is often expounded, seems to us not to understand itself. It is not in reality anarchy or “no government.” When it destroys the central and regularly constituted government, and proposes to leave every group to make its own arrangements for the repression of ordinary crime, it merely decentralizes government to the furthest point, splintering it up into minute fragments of all sizes and shapes. As long as there is ordinary crime, as long as there are aggressions by one man upon the life and property of another man, and as long as the mass of men are resolved to defend life and property, there cannot be anarchy or no government. By the necessity of things, we are obliged to choose between regularly constituted government, generally accepted by all citizens for the protection of the individual, and irregularly constituted government, irregularly accepted, and taking its shape just according to the pattern of each group. Neither in the one case nor in the other case is government got rid of. The more true anarchist, the man who actually gets rid of government, is Tolstoy, who preaches as Christ did, that we should bear all injuries without returning them. In that way, it is true, government can be got rid of—but then how many of us are prepared to follow Tolstoy? There still remains, as anarchists might urge, another method of dealing with ordinary crimes. Under the theory of “no government,” the defense of person and property, and the punishment of crime might be left absolutely to the individual; and this method, like Tolstoy's method, would be quite consistent with the true anarchistic theory. I have heard an able anarchist defend it on the ground that men would exercise force with more scrupulousness, when obliged to act in their own persons, than when acting through a judge and policeman. But here again how many of us on the one hand are prepared to judge and to act for ourselves as regards our own wrongs; or on the other hand to consent to the self-made appointment of those—who believe themselves to be injured by us—as our judges and executioners? To most of us such a system could be described only by the word—pandemonium.

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Self Intro Afs - Essay by Onlyanas - Anti Essays

And now place before yourselves the picture of the nation that not simply out of self-interest but for rights' sake and conscience's sake took to its heart the great cause of true liberty, and was determined that all men and women should be left free to guide themselves and take charge of their own lives; that was determined to oppress and persecute and restrain the actions of no single person in order to serve any interest or any opinion or any class advantage; that flung out of its hands the bad instrument of force—using force only for its one clear, simple and rightful purpose of restraining all acts of force and fraud, committed by one citizen against another, of safeguarding the lives, the actions, the property of all, and thus making a fair open field for all honest effort; think, under the influences of liberty and her twin sister peace—for they are inseparably bound together—neither existing without the other—how our character as a people would grow nobler and at the same time softer and more generous—think how the old useless enmities and jealousies and strivings would die out; how the unscrupulous politician would become a reformed character, hardly recognizing his old self in his new and better self; how men of all classes would learn to cooperate together for every kind of good and useful purpose; how, as the results of this free cooperation, innumerable ties of friendship and kindliness would spring up amongst us all of every class and condition, when we no longer sought to humble and crush each other, but invited all who were willing to work freely with us; how much truer and more real would be the campaign against the besetting vices and weakness of our nature, when we sought to change that nature, not simply to tie men's hands and restrain external action, no longer setting up and establishing in all parts of life that poor weak motive—the fear of punishment—those clumsy useless penalties, evaded and laughed at by the cunning, that have never yet turned sinner into saint; how we should rediscover in ourselves the good vigorous stuff that lies hidden there, the power to plan, to dare and to do; how we should see in clearer light our duty toward other nations, and fulfill more faithfully our great world trust; how we should cease to be a people divided into three or four quarrelsome unscrupulous factions—ready to sacrifice all the great things to their intense desire for power—and grow into a people really one in heart and mind, because we frankly recognized the right to differ, the right of each one to choose his own path because we respected and cherished the will, the intelligence, the free choice of others, as much as we respect and cherish these things in ourselves, and were resolved never to trample, for the sake of any plea, for any motive, on the higher parts of human nature, resolved that—come storm or sunshine—we would not falter in our allegiance to liberty and her sister peace, that we would do all, dare all, and suffer all, if need be, for their sake, then at last the regeneration of society would begin, the real promised land, not the imaginary land of vain and mocking desires, would be in sight.

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What I have said of France might be said, with the necessary difference, of other European countries—each country being vexed and harassed by its bureaucrats, and each being affected in its own way according to the genius of the people. But in each country the general effect is the same. Almost every European government is a legalized manufactory of dynamiters. Vexation piled upon vexation, restriction upon restriction, burden upon burden, the dynamiter is slowly hammered out everywhere on the official anvil. The more patient submit, but the stronger and more rebellious characters are maddened, and any weapon is considered right, as the weapon of the weaker against the stronger. It matters little that a great deal of what is done is done in the alleged interest of the people themselves. I myself have seen in England a clever industrious workman driven to the edge of revolt by the persecuting character of our education laws, and changed from a man ready to fight within the law to one who was almost ready to fight outside it. There are men, not bad parents, who have passed from town to town to avoid this persecution; these are families who have broken up their homes and lived as they could, in their detestation of it. It is time that we laid aside this odious weapon of compulsion. More and more bitter will be the fruit of it as the years go on. Compulsion everywhere is a brutalizing weapon. The English, with their faults—and there are plenty of them—are, I think, the most tender-hearted people anywhere on the earth. That tender-heartedness, both to each other and to animals, arises, as I believe, mainly from their past free life. They have never as yet been officialized; they have never as yet been turned into government material. Recently we have been reversing our traditions; but it is not yet too late to step back from the mire and the slough which lie in front of us. As yet we have only soiled our ankles, where other nations have waded deep. We inherit splendid traditions of voluntaryism, which hardly any other nation has inherited; and it is to voluntaryism, the inspiring genius of the English character, that we must look in the future, as we did in the past, for escape from all difficulties. If we cannot by reason, by influence, by example, by strenuous effort, and by personal sacrifice, mend the bad places of civilization, we certainly cannot do it by force. Force is the very weakest and most treacherous of all human implements. The history of force is the history of the continuous crumbling away of every institution that has rested upon it. The irony of history has never faltered for a single generation. It is no mere paradox to say that to be strong with the world's strength is to be weak. Whatever on the one day looked to the eyes of men as if it could defy all attack, towering above subject things in its magnificence, and resting on what seemed its immovable and almost eternal foundations of force, on the morrow has gone to pieces as if it had been wholly built of rubble and clay. It would seem as if every institution possessed of overweening power—material power—has been pitilessly selected for destruction. The jealous gods have hated it, and ever since the days of Horace have aimed their lightnings at its head. There has been a curse pronounced against force, as force, which knows no exceptions in any country, in any time, or as regards any cause. The only thing that lasts through it all, that endures while the other perishes, is moral force—the word, the conviction, which attempts to bind no hands but acts only on the soul. As Emerson said—I don't remember his exact phrase—there is only one victory worth winning, the victory of principle, the victory over souls. To that belief we have to return, if we have ever held it; or to ascend to it, if it has never yet been counted amongst our intellectual possessions; and blessed, thrice blessed, will be the dynamiter, with all his cruelty and with all his insanity, if in his distorted features we learn to see as in a mirror a reflection of our own selves, and thus are compelled to recognize the true character of the odious force weapons with which we have warred against each other. If we cannot learn, if the only effect upon us of the presence of the dynamiter in our midst is to make us multiply punishments, invent restrictions, increase the number of our official spies, forbid public meetings, interfere with the press, put up gratings—as in one country they propose to do—in our House of Commons, scrutinize visitors under official microscopes, request them, as at Vienna, and I think now at Paris also, to be good enough to leave their greatcoats in the vestibules—if we are, in a word, to trust to machinery, to harden our hearts, and simply to meet force with force, always irritating, always clumsy, and in the end fruitless, then I venture to prophesy that there lies before us a bitter and an evil time. We may be quite sure that force users will be force begetters. The passions of men will rise higher and higher; and the authorized and unauthorized governments—the government of the majority and of written laws, the government of the minority and of dynamite—will enter upon their desperate struggle, of which no living man can read the end. In one way and only one way can the dynamiter be permanently disarmed—by abandoning in almost all directions our force machinery, and accustoming the people to believe in the blessed weapons of reason, persuasion, and voluntary service. We have morally made the dynamiter; we must now morally unmake him.

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In a small but cheerful lodging overlooking the Thames, Angus found Markham. After a few words he began to pour out his old troubles. Was it possible to act honestly with party? Did it not lead to a constant sacrifice of convictions, or, indeed, learning to live without them? And then was party itself, morally speaking, better off; would not convictions, if simply and straightforwardly followed, place the party that so acted at a fatal disadvantage in its struggles with its rival? Were not politics an art in which a clever manipulation of the electors, and a nice opportunism in selecting measures that satisfied one portion of the people without too much offending another portion, possessed the first importance, while the high motives and great causes to which all politicians loved to appeal were as bits of broken mosaic that the Jew dealer throws in as a make-weight to complete the bargain?