“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson
My dearly departed friend Lee Wrights used this quote as a tagline under his email signature. I received hundreds of emails from Lee over the years. Hundreds of times, I was exposed to this saying. Quotes, like mantras, are sometimes so often used and repeated, they seem to lose luster and become blurred in the background of our over-stimulated minds.
Knowing Lee as I did, this particular quote never faded into my subconscious. With his love and respect for his friends, Lee brought this quote to life. This love and respect extended even further to include everyone he met. This timeless yet all too rare custom and quality of character, I found in my friend. His depth of compassion and pursuit of peace left an impression on me that will remain a part of me forever.
He indeed was a Preacher of Peace… and what a preacher he was!
On the question of Why Peace, Lee responded,
“I think the clearest and simplest answer is “Why not; we have tried war, over and over again, we never win, and the problems we war against only get worse. As the old ’60s song goes: all we are saying is, give peace a chance.” Not only that, but history proves that when there is no war, people prosper. There have been economic booms, scientific advancements, and cultural progress after every conflict American has fought, beginning with our War of Independence.”
Lee understood the hostile nature of coercive governance. He was a radical champion of the non-aggression axiom. Like Lee, I believe the principle of non-aggression is the level and true foundation of libertarian philosophy…
“Government is force, and war is the inevitable, ultimate and deadliest expression of that base characteristic. Force and coercion are not only incompatible with freedom and liberty, they are destructive of them. Freedom and liberty can only survive and flourish in a society where peaceful exchange of goods, services, and ideas is preserved and protected by the respect of everyone involved, by mutual consent. Just as freedom and responsibility are said to be two sides of the same coin, so are peace and prosperity.”
Serving as Lee’s campaign manager, I witnessed firsthand how he touched hearts and minds as we traveled across the country. His loving personality and peaceable approach endeared him to hundreds of people, both from within and without the Libertarian Party. An excellent example of this came shortly after his death. Nicholas Sarwark, current Chair of the Libertarian National Committee released a moving tribute to Lee. Below is an excerpt from Sarwark’s statement…
“When Lee sought the Libertarian presidential nomination in 2012, I went all in to support his campaign. His message of ending all war and his commitment to “making a difference by being different” resonated with my vision of what the Libertarian Party should stand for. I was proud to support him and proud to place his name in nomination for vice president when he failed to secure the presidential nomination in Las Vegas. After an exciting convention, he served as vice chair of the LNC from 2012 to 2014, and then stepped back from internal party politics.
“The Lee I knew was gentle, kind, dedicated, passionate, and on fire for liberty. He fought, and fought hard, but he was “not at war.” The best way I can honor his life and service is to strive to embody that saying, “I am not at war.” Passion and fire, tempered with kindness and goodwill towards all; that’s the Lee who was loved by so many inside the Libertarian Party and out.”
On May 8, the Libertarian National Committee passed the following motion:
“The Libertarian National Committee expresses its sorrow at the passing of Lee Wrights, and extends its condolences to his family and friends. In addition, the LNC expresses its appreciation and gratitude for his work for liberty, and for his many years of service to the Libertarian Party.”
As you can see, Roger Lee Wrights was well loved and well respected by his peers in the libertarian movement. He was a true friend to liberty and all who cherish it. He was a true friend to me and I will cherish that fact so long as I exist.
In closing, to honor Lee and his legacy of love and liberty, I will leave you with my favorite quote of his…
“Join me in saying, I am not at war! If enough of us say it, they can’t have them anymore.”
This article was originally published in the Owl Creek Gazette.
You can read the current issue containing my original article here, https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6Iwo6NkHXizS2poLXJGelBMeW8/view