I recently read an article by Mark Skousen Entitled “Persuasion vs Force” (you can read it here Article. Mr Skousen was inspired by an essay in the book “Adventures of Ideas” by Alfred North Whitehead. The subject struck a chord with me and I felt compelled to share my thoughts on the subject.
What became apparent to me is that all interactions between people involve either Persuasion or Force. If you want me to do something in particular, you have two options on how you can achieve that end; you can either persuade me, or you can force me. Offering to pay me, trade goods or services, appeal to my conscience/ sense of duty or explain any benefit I might receive would all be forms of persuasion. You could also get me to do your bidding through force (physically/ emotionally) or through the threat of force. I think that all of us would agree (at least I hope so) that Persuasion is the way that civilized people deal with one another. Force on the other hand would be not only uncivilized, but downright abhorrent.
Another thought that I took from this article is that the use of persuasion is a sign of true liberty and freedom in society. Anyone can plead their case to you, but the freedom to choose lies with you. These days it seems that people think that because they feel strongly about something, they are somehow justified in imposing their views on others. That is an example of Force. If you think it is wrong for people to something (drinking, drugs, buying guns, abortions, prostitution, wear a helmet, etc.), make an intelligent argument for or against it and do your best to persuade them. Don’t petition the government to pass a law to “Force” your views. If we all interacted with each other in this manner, this world would be a much more civilized place to live and raise our children.
Now I realize that this would be an idealistic situation where everyone dealt with each other in a civilized manner, relying only on persuasion and never on force. Being the realist that I am, I have no delusions that EVERYONE would abide by this standard. You can however, apply this to your own life and pass it on to your children. Teach others to recognize the difference between persuasion and force and to see them for what they are. One represents freedom, the other represents oppression.
But what about those that insist on using FORCE? How do we deal with them? This is where things get complicated and where many civilized people have great difficulty. If someone is exerting force upon you, your first thought may be to try to use persuasion to get them to stop (you are after all, civilized. Right?). Unfortunately, you can not persuade the uncivilized to become civilized instantly. Some will never be persuaded, it’s just a fact of life that we all have to deal with. The only option (aside from letting them oppress, rob, injure or kill you) is to use Force against them. Does that make you one of the uncivilized? Well, to put my opinion as simply as I can, “No it doesn’t”. It leaves you alive and intact so that you can perpetuate civility. You would be remiss if you allowed yourself or anyone else to be oppressed by the uncivilized.
In order to prevent others from using Force against me, I have established my own Personal Readiness System. I maintain awareness so that I can not only recognize whether someone intends to deal with me through Persuasion or Force; but so that I am prepared to deal with either one. I have trained in Personal Protection and maintain the physical ability to use my training. In addition to the above, I carry tools to protect myself. The main tool is my personal firearm. The way I see things, there is always someone bigger, stronger, faster or just plain meaner than you. No matter what physical advantage(s) you may have over me, with my gun, they are negated. At the very least, if you have a gun, we are on equal footing. You can not exert Force against me while I am armed, period. You can only use persuasion with me while I have my gun. Maybe that’s where they get the saying that an armed society is a polite society.
As you go through your day today, be observant of who is using persuasion and who is using force. You may be surprised by what you see.