Reporting from: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Last month in Vietnam, a local business owner told me a story about doing business with the Vietnamese.
He talked about just how important the concept of “face” is in business there. No one wants to feel like they got taken advantage of in a deal. And some people there will go to great lengths to ensure they keep face.
This business owner told me that, if things got heated, you could possibly beat one Vietnamese person in a fight. But the next day, they’ll bring their friend back for round two. If you beat both of them, they’ll come back with five guys. Then ten. Then one hundred.
They’ll keep coming back until they beat you, because they strongly believe in the need to maintain their honor.
Every once in awhile, I get a stark reminder of just why I left the United States for greener pastures elsewhere in the world.
While we disagree on the place to escape to, I’m friends with several folks in the Free State Project. The Free State Project is a group of people who have vowed to move to New Hampshire to effect change, namely limited government and more freedom.
Unfortunately, the Free State Project recently had a run in with someone on their board who didn’t entirely share their principles of self-defense.
At a recent meeting, the group chose to remove a board member who had suggested:
“It’s a terribly unpopular thing to say, but the answer, at some point, is to kill government agents… Any level of force necessary for anyone to stop any government agent from furthering said coercion [tax collection in the context of funding the salaries of all government employees] is morally justifiable…”
When people ask me why I choose “flight” over “fight”, this is why. Some say it’s because I’m a whimp or I can’t “take the heat”. The reality is far from that. I don’t want to spend my life shooting people.
Let me be clear: I’m not a violent person to begin with. I’d rather take precautions to protect myself than end up in a fight, and I certainly have no intentions of initiating violence.
Beyond that, however, I don’t believe any set of geopolitical lines are worth having to go out and kill people for. I don’t want that on my conscience.
Take my friend’s story of getting in a fight with Vietnamese people. He said that, no matter what it took, the person who felt wronged would keep building a bigger and bigger army until he took you down and made you pay for messing with him.
That’s exactly how the government works. It is a faceless entity made up of millions of people enacting tyranny in different ways. Not only is initiating violence something I disagree with, but it’s not going to solve any problems. They’ll always come back with more.
This why I choose to look for greener pastures. The United States has become such a bully state with so much far-reaching power that you will never beat it. Forget about taking on agents one-on-one as board member above suggested. You won’t be able to successfully kill off its bad policies.
I can disagree with the rhetoric about government workers “just doing their jobs”. And I do. But while taking up arms may have been the thing to do in the Middle Ages, it’s not the thing to do today. Not when there are so many other options.
After all, among the issues in question here are high taxes. Is that going to be your motivation to get on your roof and fire off shots and agents coming up the hill? How angry can you really expect to get about high taxes when there are a dozen countries you could reach by airplane within a few hours that have NO income tax?
Just how far should you go to take action against the NSA – a faceless entity – when you could leave US borders and enjoy much less scrutinized communications?
Just how upset should you be about being fondled by the TSA when most other countries on earth take more reasonable security measures, which you enjoy simply by leaving the one country the TSA claims dominion over?
The reason I choose flight over fight is because I do practice the art of self-reliance and self-interest. I know that it’s a lot easier for me to effect change not only in my own life but in the lives of others by being a free man rather than a jailed thug.
I believe much of this need to “fight” stems from ego that, ironically, has been propagated by the very government people want to fight against. The idea that exiting a birth canal on United States soil makes you someone who should be loyal to “America” at any cost is silly.
To me, choosing to “fight” for a country is simply a more comfortable, less emotional alternative to packing your bags and moving to Chile, or Singapore, or Cambodia. Change can be hard when you don’t know what to expect, but “fighting” is encoded within us.
Besides, saying that the solution to the problem of bad government is violence is a bit insulting to people who have fought their own tyrannical governments in places like Syria and Libya. To many Americans, I think the idea of violence is like that of a fantasy camp that never leaves the fantasy level.
I believe that it is each of our responsibility to live our best life. Guys who take up arms against their governments typically aren’t sipping mojitos on pristine beaches or hitting on beautiful Eastern European women. They’re usually holed up in a cave or a bunker somewhere, plotting their next move.
Doesn’t sound like much of a life to me.
The places where people are killing each other with impunity are the very places the average American “fighter” dismisses condescendingly: Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq.
Yet those are the kind of places where people who are willing to kill to support their beliefs live. Their counterparts in the rest of the world are rotting away in jail cells, having done nothing more than give more ammunition to their government’s claim that there are radical whack jobs out there that warrant the theft of more civil liberties.
They say the best revenge is living well. By escaping bad government and lack of freedom in your home country, you can enjoy life outside of their grasp.
As someone who flies around the world without being groped, does business outside the draconian regulatory net, and crosses the street without getting a jaywalking ticket, I can attest to how much better of a life it is.