Libertarians, myself included, are much better at pointing out wrongs than expressing appreciation for rights. There have been a lot of occasions when I’ve felt sad about lack of encouraging feedback for things I’ve done, and doubtless others often feel the same.
This summer I got a box of greeting cards with art featuring cats from the Museum of Fine Arts. Since I rarely send personal communications on paper these days, it had just been sitting there. On my way home from vacation, I passed through Lebanon, NH, reminding me of the Kilton Library’s decision to stand up to Homeland Security intimidation and set up a Tor Network node. I wrote a short note on one of the cards, simply thanking them for their decision.
Yesterday I learned that author James Sallis was forced to resign from Phoenix College rather than take a state-required loyalty oath. This reminded me of my own experience with Harvard, where I was put under pressure to agree to a “confidentiality policy” that included a blanket prohibition on reporting illegal activity. In my case my job wasn’t endangered, but I was told other employees were required to agree to it. I sent Sallis an e-mail thanking him for the integrity of his choice and got an appreciative reply.
When people get encouragement for making the right choices they’re more likely to do it again, and that benefits me too.