Find the causes you care about, and stay consistent.
Welcome to several new subscribers, many of whom came from my letter for Antiwar.com!
I update my blog very irregularly, and I keep meaning to make more of a regular effort but I’ve been busy with entrepreneurial activities as of late (something I should write more about).
This Substack covers a lot of subjects - lots of personal stories about my life and how my experiences influence my outlook (or how my outlook influenced my experiences), some discussions about my political opinions, my cultural perspective, causes I care about, recipes I like, crazy adventures, and more.
Each title of each post is a piece of unsolicited advice, so you’ll notice they all begin with a verb, or a call to action. I try to make sure the story inside reflects the advice I give. This one’s kind of on the nose. I don’t tend to write about foreign policy (here’s an article I wrote years ago on another website), but I do care about it.
This is a slightly different version of the letter I gave to Antiwar.com to publish asking for donations. If you’ve already seen it, well, consider it another call to action, and enjoy my additions. If you haven’t read it yet, please enjoy its entirety.
I don’t want to bury the lede here: Antiwar.com is raising money, and we have matching funds for your donation right now. I’m making a tax-deductible donation in addition to my monthly pledge, and I’m asking you to do so as well. You can skip my story and go right to the donation page if you’re so inclined.
I’d like to share my story of how I found myself here, as a young woman, a millennial, and a Libertarian.
Photo taken by Spike Cohen at LPTexas Convention 2022.
I grew up in a very political family with military history. Both of my grandfathers were war veterans. My mother’s father served in WWII, and during the Vietnam War he was asked to join an effort to recruit young men for military service - he refused, saying that the government routinely lied to the American people, and those who served. My mother was a draft counselor during the Vietnam War, helping young men avoid military conscription. Anti-war activities seem to be in my blood.
My parents met in the movement of Libertarianism in the early 70s (my mother got my grandfather to run for Congress as a Libertarian, my father volunteered on the campaign). I was raised with several key understandings: that personal and economic liberty are the same thing, that liberty is essential to human flourishing, and that aggressive violence impedes both liberty and human flourishing.
I’d say “war is hell”, but according to common mythology, hell is only populated by bad people. War is worse than hell. War is full of innocent people. War is full of people unlucky enough to be victims of aggressive violence. War is the place where human beings fail to recognize the individual humanity of one another. War is the absence of compassion. War is collective guilt and punishment of the many for the alleged sins of a few against a state.
I was lucky enough to be raised with this understanding, but I wasn’t much of an activist until a series of events that started on a Tuesday in September of 2001.
I watched the Twin Towers collapse on television. Three days later, I watched the single bravest political act of my lifetime (and likely since this nation was founded). One lone “no” vote against giving President Bush a broad, open-ended authorization for military force.
It was Congresswoman Barbara Lee. I listened to her voice shake on television as she explained her “no”. As she asked the nation to not let this spiral out of control. She was called a traitor and a terrorist for it.
(“Yes” votes for the measure was literally everybody else in Congress and the Senate, including certain currently well-known names as Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and to my great disappointment, Ron Paul).
Obviously the whole situation did spiral out of control. It’s been 21 years, countless lives, more than a trillion dollars.
(I’d like to digress for a minute to say I understand WHY people want to get involved, particularly when they observe oppression or violence against innocents and they want to stop it. It’s a reasonable feeling at first. However, even if you don’t share my ideological opposition towards war, we can take the past 20 years as a pretty obvious argument for a consequentialist opposition to war - as a result of US intervention, the Middle East is more unstable, new problems have surfaced, we are less safe, AND we lost lives and money in the process. There’s no upside).
I started going to anti-war protests, planning sign-waves and carpools with fellow Libertarians and friendly anti-war leftists who were there to protest Bush and the "War on Terror". It was somewhere around late 2002, I stumbled on my first articles from Antiwar.com, and I remember printing editorials and putting them up on bulletin boards around my college, reading them to anyone who would listen in the student lounge. I believed if I could only get them to read what I was reading, if I could only get enough people to see this, we could stop it somehow.
20 years later, I still try to get people to read what I’m reading. I’ve also had the honor of getting to know the team at Antiwar.com, and to call Eric Garris and Angela Keaton dear friends. The work they & their team do is so important.
I know what my principles are, I know that war is worse than hell, but when I watch the war machine in government and media begin to churn the latest justifications for intervention, whether it’s Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Russia or anywhere else, it’s Antiwar.com that helps me make sense of so much of it. The information, the editorials, the news that shows how horrific war is - that firepower, horror and destruction are not acceptable answers to the disagreements of government officials.
Antiwar.com amplifies the hard truths about the consequences of war, and that they never go away. There is no end to violence, until all of us stand up and refuse it.
Your donations keep them running - keep them building coalitions, keep them reporting the truth, keep them as a shining light against the darkness.
We must shine this light. We must be this light.
Thank you for listening to my story, and for supporting Antiwar.com.
The link to donate is http://antiwar.com/donate and any contribution is greatly appreciated.
My name is Avens O’Brien, and YOU are the light.
Lifetime Member, Libertarian Party
Board of Directors, Feminists for Liberty
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