HI. My Name Is Valhelion And I’m A Recovering Authorityholic

September 11th, 2010   Submitted by valhelion

I’ve been sober and authority free for one year now. It has been a real struggle, but I’ve come so far.  I’m really proud of my progress in becoming a peaceful and ethical human being.

I was raised in a strict, disciplinarian, Christian household.  My father was very stern and demanded much of me.  I obeyed most of the time, but when I didn’t I would be whipped with his belt, or switched by my mother.  Bad kids deserved to be punished for not doing as they are told.  I went to church every Sunday and was expected to pray to Jesus for forgiveness for my disobedience.  I was a good Christian boy and I did as the Bible commanded.

I went to public school like everybody else and did as the teachers told me. When I didn’t do as instructed I would be paddled and sent to time out. Bad students deserve to be punished. I mostly behaved as I knew my father would punish me at home for not obeying the teacher. I asked Jesus to make me a better student.

Every day in school, every lesson was obedience.  Behave on the bus. Sit quietly in your seat. Do your homework. Stay in line. Answer the test questions correctly. Color inside the lines. Say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.  I learned that rules were meant to be followed and if I was going to be a good student, I would have to follow them, too.

My father was a minister and a farmer, and I was expected to help him to put food on our table when I wasn’t at school. I wanted to play more than work most of the time, though.  So I would be punished for not contributing to the family when I was expected to.

So I learned.  To do as one is told, is to do good.  To disobey is to be a bad person.

As I grew and got older, I noticed that there were a lot of people not doing as they were told.  Those people were doing drugs, driving too fast, not paying their taxes, not going to church, talking bad about the President, and on and on.  The world was full of bad people it seemed.  They needed to be punished to teach them to be good and follow the rules like me.

But something happened to me. I’m not sure what it was exactly, but I began to have doubts about Jesus. I began to question my father’s instructions.  I stopped doing my homework.  This all happened around the time a boy starts thinking about girls.  I had always heard being a teenager would make you bad.  My father had warned me once when I was about ten that I might be bad when I grew up a little more.  I had told him I would always be good.  I would always do as I was told.

But as I grew, I broke my promise.  I stopped going to church, and abandoned much of what I had been taught.  The more I stopped, the worse everyone made me feel about my choices.  It made me very upset, but following the rules and being obedient really didn’t make me happy.  I was told to grow up, that life was hard, and if I wanted to be something I was going to have to do as I was told.  The pressure to follow the rules was piled on and I eventually melted down. Depressed, alone, and without any real friends in the world, I quit everything. But a chance event would, in a very strange way, save my soul.

At seventeen, while skipping school my senior year, I was deep in the forest next door with my two young dogs.  I always took a machete with me to carve out trails, and perhaps to use for defense if the need arose.  But this day, I cleaved my bare left foot opened on accident.  Blood poured out and I learned a lot about myself that day.  I abandoned fear and saved my own life.  I didn’t even think about what I was doing, and I just reacted to the situation. I used a sock to make a simple tourniquet around the wound. Then I proceeded to crawl, only wearing a pair of shorts, through the swamp, briars, cow shit, weeds, gullies, and through the hot August sun for four hours, to my neighbor’s house for help.  They heard me yelling when I got close and I was taken to the hospital.

That day was my salvation in a lot of ways.  I required tendon repair surgery as the machete had cut deep.  I missed six weeks of school and had to learn to walk again.  The school system failed to deliver my assignments and I fell far behind.  When I returned, it became apparent that I couldn’t catch up and graduate with my class.  So I quit.

I became good at quitting after that.  I quit college three times. I couldn’t hold a job for very long. I couldn’t hold a relationship.  I became successful at failure. But there was one thing that gave me a sense of purpose, of belonging, of direction, and of strength; The Nation. It filled that empty void that a broken and humiliated person feels when they have lost their dignity.

Around age eighteen, I tried to join the Navy.  I wanted to be on a submarine that carried nukes. I wanted to be one of the chosen few to protect The Nation.  My family had a long tradition of military service. My brother, father, uncles, cousins and distant relatives had served.  My ancestors had served in every American war.  Now it was my turn to serve.

But that ol’ machete saved me from that fate, too.  They wouldn’t take me because my wound gave me some limited mobility (which I have completely regained).  I was depressed for a while.  I found odd jobs as I searched for purpose.

Then September 11th happened.  Those bastards had attacked my Nation. I was angry, and I wanted vengeance and war.  I wanted The Nation to turn the middle east into a glow-in-the-dark parking lot.  I wanted the blood of millions to be spilled to repay what they had done. They were my enemies, and  I hated them all.

When The Nation sent in its conquering armies I was so happy and proud.  I watched the tanks thundering through the desert.  I couldn’t get enough of it and wanted Iraq to become the 51st state, ripe for colonization by good Americans.  I wanted Empire.  I was only angry at the Nation’s leaders for not sending more troops. I wanted a million troops dominating that sand pit of a country.

After all, our Nation was the mightiest, most prosperous of all. I told my friends that we would bring civilization to those barbaric people and save them from their cruel masters.  When they learned what it was like to have wealth and freedom, they would abandon their evil religious nonsense.  We would save them with arms and with prosperity.

The Nation made me feel strong and filled the emptiness in my life. I attacked those who criticized my Nation’s leader.  I hated those who vilified our glorious liberating army.  I wanted them imprisoned for their treasonous words and poisonous acts of demonstration.  I wanted them to follow the rules and obey like me.

But, once again, something happened that would save my humanity.

The stock market and economy crashed. One of the mighty pillars that my faith in The Nation rested upon collapsed.  I reeled.  How could our leaders let such a thing happen? Then, I found the answers online. I found Peter Schiff on YouTube predicting it years in advance.  I found Ludwig von Mises and Friedrick A. Hayek’s wisdom.  I discovered Fractional Reserve Banking, and how fiat currency worked.  I learned how evil and fraudulent it was.  For a long time, I was perplexed at why the Nation’s leaders would allow such a scheme.  Then I realized, they were in on it. They benefited from it.  It was the leaders who betrayed The Nation!

And then I found Ron Paul.

Because of him I began to read what Jefferson, Payne, and Franklin said.  I found liberty. I found the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  I read.  I learned what I had never heard, that liberty is the mother of order, not order’s daughter. I learned that my rights are not given by The Nation, that my liberties are inalienable, that The Nation isn’t a democracy, but a republic.  I learned that my country and my government weren’t the same thing, which was earth shattering for me.  I learned that The Nation was designed to protect us from evil.  If only we could restore it to what it was supposed to do.  The leaders weren’t following the rules. They had to obey the rules. They had to be punished.

I joined Campaign for Liberty, studied Austrian Economics, and devoured many books.  I fell in love with Glenn Beck and bought a bunch of his books, too.  Here was our cause’s true spokesman!  He would wake up the people so they could punish the leaders! I joined a local tea party.  I discovered the Non-Aggression Principle.  I donated money to campaigns. I spread the word. I gave the Constitution out at Christmas as gifts to my friends and family and told them about Ron Paul, the man who would save The Nation!

But, little did I know, the folks over at the Mises Institute had a trick up their sleeve.  I found Lew Rockwell, and Murray Rothbard.  I found article after article casting doubt on The Nation’s ability to manage things, to make things good for everyone.  No longer did I believe that The Nation should help people get health care, housing, and education, but here they were questioning whether there should even be a Nation at all.  What about roads? Who would protect us from thieves and outsiders. How would contracts be enforced and disputes resolved?

But I had grown to trust them.  Clearly, they had predicted the collapse years in advance. Could they also be right about the need for a Nation?  Slowly, one by one, the pieces fell into place.  I learned that monopolies don’t really occur without The Nation, and that those monopolies provide services with poor quality, at wealth destroying losses, and at high prices. The Postal Service, Amtrak, Medicare, Medicaid; every government program was an abject failure. The banks were a cartel backed up by the evil and private Federal Reserve.  Health insurance companies were de facto state sanctioned cartels.  I learned that the wars on drugs, poverty, and terror could all be traced back to meddlesome interference into people’s lives by The Nation.

I can’t remember the day, or the moment. It happened so quietly. It was a whisper at first that slowly grew until it was a roar in my mind.  Authority belongs to individuals, not nations. People shouldn’t have to obey a monopoly that forces its will upon them with threats of punishment. I saw that all government services are paid for with compulsory contributions we call taxes for things we may not approve. Even if we do approve, the funds are squandered on favors and is mostly wasted in the bureaucratic jungle.  I saw the police as violent thugs for the first time in my life.  I saw that this monopoly I had called my Nation trained me, my father before me, and his father before him, that it was Master.  It had trained us without me even realizing it.  It had trained me to obey, to follow the rules or to be punished.

I finally learned that people who are good don’t use violence to get what they want; they cooperate peacefully. People who are bad take what they want with violence,  no matter what badge, uniform, or title they have.

When I learned this, obedience to the authority of The Nation lost its hold on me forever.  I found ethics and philosophy through Stefan Molyneux over at Free Domain Radio.  I began to process my trauma.

I finally realized that freedom from predation, violence, and theft can only be successfully provided by voluntary association, just like in every other service or good people desire, such as bread, shoes, or ipads.  The monopoly that was supposed to protect me had instead abused me and everyone I knew.

Many have asked me “why don’t you just leave if you don’t like it?”  I have left, in my heart and mind.  But what better place to fight the war of ideas than where liberty had flourished the brightest for the longest?  The battlefield is in the minds of my friends, family, neighbors and strangers.  I think that battle can be won in time. I stay here to be a beacon for others.

For the first time in my life I have peace, tranquility, self esteem, and purpose.  I don’t need the crutches of religion or nationalism to prop me up any more.  I’m a human being and I have self-worth because I have gained self-knowledge.  I can stand on my own two feet as a person and do the right thing, not because someone commands, but because it is true.

That is my Path.

This testimonial was originally posted at http://valhelion.wordpress.com/

9 Responses to “HI. My Name Is Valhelion And I’m A Recovering Authorityholic”

  1. Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for sharing your story! It was really interesting to me because you come from a completely different background than I do, yet we arrived at the same conclusion. I suspect there are a lot of people out there who share similar stories to you and I know that your testament will help others realize that it’s not completely unheard of to go from a strict disciplinarian childhood to a free-thinking adult.

  2. sommertime205No Gravatar says:

    Love the story! I did not grow up in quite the same strict environment, but its very interesting and incredible to hear about the progression from authoritarian to anarchist. Stories like this really give me hope. Everyone loves to say that one person cannot make a difference, however, had you not heard Peter Schiff somehow, would you have ever started your intellectual journey to becoming an anarchist? Obviously this is impossible to guess, but perhaps not. This story grabs me because I made very similar progressions from Ron Paul, to Peter Schiff, to Lew Rockwell, to Hans Hermann Hoppe and eventually to the Daily Anarchist!

  3. valhelionNo Gravatar says:

    Well actually, I have to give all the credit to our arch nemisis, The State. You see, it was because they were incompetent, arrogant, elitist, and generally nasty that eventually wore down my rosy tinted view of that bunch of folk. Without their shennigens destroying the image of the well captain’d ship of state, I would still believe.

    Only when I saw that everything was broke did I go looking for someone who saw it coming. I dare say millions of people are out there looking for answers just like me. The state is our ally in helping people see how evil it is.
    But Peter Schiff is the man. I donated to his campaign before I abandoned minarchism!

  4. KristNo Gravatar says:

    This is a sad story.
    It sounds to me like your life is a net-negative.
    And the worse part is you are so self deceived that you think you are happy and free when you are not.
    I’m glad you found your way to anarchy and/or agorism, but I fear you stripped yourself of many more valuable things on your journey.
    The idea that you found ethics and philosophy through Stefan Molyneux is disturbing.

    • valhelionNo Gravatar says:

      I appreciate the feedback, Krist.

      Thanks for letting me know that my life is a net negative. What would your recommendation be? Liquidation or re-education, or something else? I’m shocked to hear that I am self deceived. That is going to keep me awake at nights, at least until you are gracious enough to dispel the illusions that I have placed over my mind’s eye.

      I am really sorry that you are afraid that I have been stripped of things you say are more valuable than my personal philosophy. Perhaps you are more enlightened and can tell me what I should value more than this.

      I also want to apologize for disturbing you by listening to Stefan Molyneaux’s arguments and agreeing with those that have merit. Please, tell me who I should listen to instead.

      Maybe one day, I’ll be good enough to receive your blessing. Or maybe, you’ll always be more wise than I.

  5. KristNo Gravatar says:

    Sorry my post sounds so harsh.
    I’m not very good at filtering my thoughts, especially on the internet.
    I really like your humble reply.
    It did a wonderful job at making me feel self righteous.
    I don’t feel like getting in to a great debate about it.
    It’s you life, do with it what you please.
    But when you post it on the internet, you’re going to receive other people’s opinion.
    One thing I will say is that I have observed many anarchist and/or agorist thrive on a negative or anti world view.
    The know well what they hate, what they are against, and what they despise.
    As a side effect, many positive things about life get destroyed.
    One thing that came to mind reading your life in a nutshell article was the anti-obedience outlook.
    Blind submission is very bad, obedience is not.
    Obedience is actually a very good character trait.
    Ironically, people who harbor an anti world view usually hold fast to the things they opposes by opposing them.
    By being disobedient to one thing, one usually becomes obedient to another.
    Like the people who are religiously against religion.
    maybe even obediently disobedient.
    The article, your life as perceived by what you shared, had a cloud of negativity looming over it.
    That’s why I said it appears like your journey may have left you in a net negative.

    I’m not going to make a case against Stefan’s ethics here.
    People have refuted his silliness and hypocrisy elsewhere on the internet, just ddg.gg it.
    Now in regards to economics, the state, etc. he’s pretty spot on.

    • HelioNo Gravatar says:

      I also must appologize for the way my reply sounded. Thanks for the clarification as I thought you meant to say that my life is negative in the present. It is certainly true that in the past, my life was negative as a result of the indoctrination and control by my elders.

      I do appreciate what you mean about anarchists thriving on an anti world view. When I first came to accept anarchism, that certainly applied to me. However, I recognized that being under constant stress was very unhealthy. I once read a book called Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl, a Nazi death camp surivor. Remembering the lessons of that book allowed me to put things into perspective and adopt a more humble approach to living under statism, and the rewards have been a resurgence in my own optimism and happiness.

      Thanks for the reply.
      (PS, what is with the angry avatar faces? Is it random?)