I learned about the work of Roger J. Williams through he wonderful podcast produced by the Mises Institute – The Libertarian Tradition. While the episodes are no longer produced, I learned a great deal about liberty minded people that I wouldn’t have know about back in 2010, thanks to the Mises Institute and Jeff Riggenbach’s booming voice. You can still find the episodes on the Mises website here or search on iTunes U for “The Libertarian Tradition” although I’m not sure if the iTunes episodes are still supported.
What we need to keep in mind, and it’s sometimes hard to do, is that our intellectual heritage stems from many backgrounds and degrees of “libertyness” for lack of a better word. As noted in Riggenbach’s details of Williams, he was probably not even a Libertarian, but his contributions to the world, such as the discovery of Folic Acid, as well as the overall conclusions he draws about human beings, is a critical one. As the title of this post states – You Are Extraordinary, was a book Written by Williams in the 70s. (My edition was the third printing in 1974). The great inspiration that eventually led to the writing of his book, was his reaction to Morphine after an accident that he had. I can still hear Riggenbach’s voice telling the story of Morphine’s effect on him, where he couldn’t feel his limbs but his mind was racing all night, and he couldn’t fall asleep. This lead him to the eventual conclusion that “there is no average person” as the first page of his book states. Throughout the book, he details, through both prose and diagrams the differences in ALL of our blood vessels, arteries, sinus cavities, and organs. There’s an example early on in the book about 12 healthy males with 12 different sized livers, which would make a huge difference in removing waste from the body as well as its effects on whether or not someone becomes an alcoholic or not.
I’ve been convinced for quite sometime that one of the most important topics outside of the perpetual wars and disastrous economic policies pursued by States across the globe is health, particularly in the US where people are now sicker and fatter than ever, despite numerous updates to the farcical “food pyramid” and “low fat” crazes commanded to us from on high since Ancel Keys convinced some bureaucrats that saturated fat was the genesis of all of our health woes.
To make a short story long, the implications for liberty minded types is obvious in Williams’ work – our differences on the outside, shape, facial symmetry, hair (or lack thereof) pale in comparison to our differences on the inside. The size of our stomachs have a direct impact on the quantity of food we can hold which has an impact on satiety. The number of nerve endings in our extremities have a direct impact on our intersection with the outside world. This helps to explain while some kids, such as myself and my two boys, are far more sensory, via the temperature or the way a shirt lays on your back, than others. Our uniqueness is comprehensive and encompasses every single human being. This insight is crucial to the understanding that central planning cannot possibly work. It’s not just enough to say that we’re culturally different in the US than we are from Indians, all of us in the US are completely different! We truly are an “experiment of one” as Mark Sisson likes to say. How then, can one group of bureaucrats in one cesspool have the arrogance to believe that not only can they rule people who are seemingly like them, but those that share little to nothing in common with them at all!?
The work of Williams has far reaching implications – from having a better understanding of how we are truly different from one another to emboldening the case for individuality; not that we needed it, but any evidence, especially on anatomical grounds, certainly helps.