The World Would Be a Great Deal Better

I’m not a moral philosopher or a theologian. I was once a half-decent economic historian, but that’s another story. Anyhow, I’m going to offer you a few words of unsolicited moral advice along with some observations on the nature of the world in which you live. You may not need this advice, in which case I apologize for bothering you, but it’s clear that many people do need it.

First, you should take note of the great diversity of people in the world. People have different ethnicities, languages, religions, customs, ideologies, habits, and tastes. This variation in itself need not trouble you, amigos; it’s better for everyone if you do not hate people who differ from you.

Second, it’s especially important that you not try to kill these people unless they happen to be carrying out an actual violent assault on you. Also important, you should not call on the criminals who rule your society to kill these “others” on your behalf on the pretense of protecting you.

Third, you should not mislabel events such as peaceful “others” crossing your nation’s border as an “invasion” or some such, because this kind of talk not only corrupts language, but fosters serious mischief. If people come into your area from El Salvador or New Jersey, don’t freak out. They might be a lot nicer than you imagine. But in any event it’s wrong for you to hurt them simply because they are not carbon copies of you.

If you take the foregoing advice to heart and act accordingly, the world will be a great deal better for everyone, including you. In time you might even come to recognize that people are people, that you are just one of them, neither inherently better nor inherently worse unless your actions show that you are truly a demon or a saint in disguise.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.