‘Latter-day Responsibility:’ Connor Boyack’s followup to ‘Latter-day Liberty’

Before going on, please take a gander at my review of “Latter-day Liberty,” Connor Boyack’s first book.

To sum up: Connor Boyack is a controversial Utah-based libertarian political activist. In his first book, he angers both modern-day progressives and modern-day conservatives with his libertarian philosophy, which is described in the book. I say “angers” because the responses I usually get about Boyack and his philosophy are almost always angry. Very few people seem to be willing to take on his actual arguments without resorting to personal attacks.

I am expecting a similar response to “Latter-day Responsibility,” but this book should not be controversial. Boyack’s point is that embracing liberty also means embracing personal responsibility, an obvious but sometimes forgotten element of a truly free society. Most latter-day Saints should nod in agreement with the points of this book, precisely because so many of them are made in General Conference twice a year and in countless other talks by General Authorities.

As Connor writes:

Simply abstaining from explicitly violating God’s more well-known commands is not sufficient, neither for our individual salvation nor for the perpetuation of the individual liberty of mankind. Rather, we must proactively, willingly, and eagerly assume the personal responsibilities that are intertwined with individual liberty and, through persuasion (and never coercion), encourage others to act likewise.

I think Connor has gotten to the heart of what true freedom should mean to latter-day Saints. Mormon libertarianism is not Ayn Rand’s objectivism, which is based entirely on self-interest and selfishness. Mormon libertarianism is about self-fulfillment by following the Savior’s example of helping others. It is about voluntary communitarianism, a desire to participate in a society based on each person rationally and willingly building up others. Of course, to truly help others you must also help yourself.

To sum up: a truly free society would be like a well-run ward where all members willingly participate to help each other and build each other up.

The best way to be able to help others is to make sure you have taken care of your own needs first. You can’t go help a neighbor catch a lost cow if your own cows are wandering the roads. So, Boyack points out that you must do the following (among other things):

1)Know how to defend yourself.
2)Pursue financial stability and try to be debt-free.
3)Pay your tithing.
4)Keep food storage and your own preparedness kit.
5)Get yourself educated.
6)Participate in society.
7)Devote time to your family, to church, to studying the scriptures and preparing yourself spiritually.

Not very controversial, right? Well, Boyack throws in a few points certain to upset some people, ie, being responsible also means avoiding government handouts. He points out (rightly) that government aid usually hurts the poor more than helps. He points out that the government cannot save you from yourself by prohibiting what you eat and drink — you need to take responsibility for your own body and your own health.

It seems obvious to me that people who rely on “the government” to take care of them are heading for at the very least severe disappointment but possibly their own destruction. Boyack’s message is: learn how to take care of yourself so you can best help others.

As in his first book, Boyack has scores of quotations from the Founding Fathers and Church General Authorities to support his points. Each chapter ends with practical advice that is in line with what you hear in General Conference. “Latter-day Responsibility” is well-organized and well-written.

This book will be coming out in November. You can learn more about the book here.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.