Have you ever been somewhere, minding your own business, when your world gets rocked by a couple of complete strangers?
Two Tuesdays ago I had just completed a lunch meeting for my job in downtown Birmingham, AL, I was excited to get home and decompress, take notes from my meeting, and get some more work done before I had to head out of town for several days early the next morning.
But sometimes plans change.
During my lunch meeting, a young man and woman bearing guitars, large packs, and a well-behaved small dog sat down close to my table outside. Though they were clearly transient, they looked far too well-fed and sober to be one of the homeless that inhabit the streets in numbers that are startlingly high for a city this size.
I wanted desperately to just go home and change out of my work clothes. To sit at my desk in the air conditioning. To live in my bubble that day, like I normally do.
But I couldn’t.
I went inside to top off my Diet Coke, then walked back outside, determined to walk back to my car and drive home.
But I didn’t
Something drew me to the young couple enjoying their lunch in the early June sunshine. After asking if I could join them, I sat down to listen to their story.
The people I met that day, Abigail and Eric, are profoundly dangerous. Abigail and Eric are different from the majority of Americans. Abigail and Eric gave up nearly all of their possessions to backpack across the country helping people.
We chatted for a few minutes, talked about hometowns—theirs in California, and mine in Alabama, and their dog, Jackson. You know, the type of things strangers talk about. Then, I don’t remember how, but things got political. I mentioned that I am a libertarian.
To my surprise Eric answered with, “To people not familiar with alternate political parties I call myself a libertarian, but really I’m an anarchist.”
My jaw dropped. Literally.
Turns out, Abigail and Eric have set out to give credence to their belief that people are good and generous. That love is all you need. That mutual respect and natural rights can replace government.
We sat there talking religion, politics, anarchism, and books for an hour and a half, before I invited them to have dinner with my husband and me that evening.
While we treated them to some Alabama BBQ at a local joint, my husband and I sat there in love with these people. Abigail exhibits this grace that can only be described as divine. She is warm and inviting, enthusiastic and loving, a follower of The Way, and Eric is incredibly smart and well read. He talks philosophy in a way even I can understand.
My husband and I walked away from dinner that night with a renewed hope in libertarianism and in people in general. Because besides the awesome books they recommended, they left us with an important reminder:
There is a lot of hope for the libertarian movement because people like Abigail and Eric exist. People who see that there is a higher goal to freedom than simply attaining all the material wealth we can, that even with the freest markets and smallest governments there will always be those who live in relative poverty among us, and that those people are best served not by a faceless, soulless government, but with love and respect from those who have more to give. We are made for community, and we are equipped to love. There is a happy medium between Marxism and Ayn Rand’s complete disregard for the poor, and it is easily found when we take the time to love one another, if for no other reason than because we are all human.
These companions are dangerous because they are proving all of them, Ayn Rand, Karl Marx, and John McCain, wrong by living out the world they wish to attain.
They are some of the most badass people I’ve ever met.