Adventures of a Libertarian Social Worker

At the age of 33, I finally decided what I wanted to do with my life: I was going to be the best social worker I could possibly be. It was actually what I had already been doing with my life for the past 10 years or so in various Bachelor level positions. I always enjoyed it for the most part, but kept waiting for a “better idea” of what to do with my life to come along. I mean…who would actually choose to be a social worker the rest of their lives?? Only a crazy person. Well, the better idea never happened, so I decided to get married to my career. And once I decided to commit, I went full speed ahead. I enrolled in graduate school last fall and will receive my Master’s in Social work by the end of summer 2014. I am passionate about social work and can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I know I made the right choice for myself.

During my undergrad experience, I fell victim to the flawed yet idealistic and feel-good logic of my liberal professors and peers. Before I knew it, despite my upbringing by my staunchly conservative parents, I was a bleeding heart liberal myself. And I thought I knew it all. My perception of conservatism was what you would expect any liberal to have; that they are a callous, uncaring, greedy bunch who care nothing about the poor and elderly and neglected and abused. All they care about is making a buck and screwing over anyone who stands in their way! Or so I thought.

I have always strived to have an open mind, and to consider both sides of any argument before settling on my own conclusions, though this is always easier said than done. I can say though that if I didn’t at least try to consider the “other side’s” point of view, I wouldn’t be sitting on the polar opposite end of the political spectrum today. During my liberal years or, the “dark ages” as I like to think of them, I engaged in many lively debates with others about politics, most often with my ultra-conservative family members. I was certainly stubborn in my opinions, and where I lacked logic in my arguments I made up for in emotion, err… “heart”. I didn’t see heart in my opponents’ arguments, or maybe I was just blind to them. And I assumed that since they were not in favor of, say, boundless social welfare programs, that meant they just didn’t give a hoot about the poor. I mean what were we supposed to do, just let them starve?!? Do these people not have a SOUL??

Fortunately, I eventually saw the “light”. Emotion gave way to logic, and I could no longer deny that all the various government enforced laws and mandates that carried the supposed altruistic intent of helping those less fortunate only, in reality, served to hurt them even further. And here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter HOW great the intention is with ANYthing; if the results do not line up with the intention, the intention just doesn’t mean squat.

I still care about all the same social issues/problems as I did in my dark ages, even MORE so now that I am immersed in social work, both in my career and academic pursuits. I just changed what I believe are the best solutions to those social problems. I am a proponent of solutions that actually produce a favorable result. Liberal solutions, by their very emotionally-charged nature, do not typically produce those favorable results, unfortunately. They actually tend to produce the opposite.

My political beliefs don’t always line up with other conservatives I know. I consider myself to be libertarian because it is the only political party or ideology that fully supports my fundamental belief that everyone has the right to live their lives the way they see fit; unless of course, their life choices result in the infringement on other people’s rights. Therefore, unlike many other conservatives (especially those who intertwine their religious beliefs with their political ones), I do not support the government saying who may or may not marry the partner of their choice. I do not support the government telling us what we are allowed to put into our own bodies, even if those substances would cause our bodies harm. Do I think that people who choose to shoot up are making a poor choice in doing so? Absolutely. I also think that people whose diet consists primarily of trans fats are making a poor choice. But who am I to tell them not to as long as the only person they are hurting is themselves? Now, if someone under the influence gets behind the wheel, or begins to neglect or abuse their children as a result of their drug addiction, then by all means, they should pay serious legal consequences. Otherwise? IT’S THEIR LIFE!! And if/when they decide to get help for their afflictions, us social workers will be there waiting for them.

This all being said, I have to remind myself on a regular basis to continue to strive for having as open of a mind as possible. My political beliefs continue to this day to evolve and be shaped by new information I receive about how the world works, and I hope that never changes. Who knows…maybe I will start to sway back the other direction again at some point. It happened once; I suppose it can happen again. But that is so very hard to imagine. I can’t fathom going back to my same way of thinking knowing what I know now. But we can’t stop having open dialogue with people, on both sides of the spectrum. We have to at least try to see where they’re coming from. We can always learn from others, even those who we adamantly disagree with. We must always respect and love one another and strive to rise above the emotion that’s often present when we discuss difficult issues that affect our society today.

I’d like to continue to write about my adventures of a social worker in more posts to come, so please, if your interest is peaked, stay tuned. I feel I bring a unique perspective to the table. Believe me when I say that being a conservative social work student makes me an anomaly. Not only that but I was once liberal so I know exactly where liberals are coming from when they make the arguments they do. I know they often come from a good place and are just simply (forgive me liberal friends) misguided. It’s easy to become misguided in the age we live in. We can (should) only take what the media tells us with half a grain of salt. And I certainly don’t know it all, and anyone who claims to is FULL of it. But we have to keep trying to know the truth. We have to embrace logic and reason as our leader because emotion will only get us so far. We must strive for the truth because only the truth will set us free.





About mama2t

I am a 32 year old stay-at-home mom looking for a creative outlet for my written word.
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6 Responses to Adventures of a Libertarian Social Worker

  1. Breean McKinney says:

    I was just thinking today, after receiving another insane email from the NASW, that there ought to be a professional network for libertarian social workers, and so I have started looking into it. Love this article!

  2. RedGrouper says:

    Enjoyed your post. When can we read more?

  3. Meg says:

    Loved this! I feel lost in a sea of liberal social workers and would love it if I could find a libertarian group. Do you (or Breean above) know of a group for libertarian social workers anywhere?

  4. mama2t says:

    Thanks for your comments. Nope, I haven’t heard of a libertarian social work group, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!

  5. Jada Urquhart says:

    I am having a crisis of conscience halfway through my second year in the master’s program at OSU. I was a high school teacher who lost her job due to lack of funding. So I decided to pursue another career, one that I had started 20 years before. After my first year internship with Children’s Services, which wasn’t bad in my county, my second year was in a public mental health clinic. I became ill, so had to quit halfway through the second year. I am returning next week to school and do not have a placement yet. I am trying to figure out where I can fit in as a libertarian who believes in personal choices and personal responsibility. I co-facilitated the Vivitrol women’s group in lieu of jail time until all of the women had dropped out. They had no commitment to change. And every intake I did at the clinic was court-ordered. How can I be of service when the individuals did not choose that service? There must be a place for someone like me but I can’t find it. Could you help me?

    • mama2t says:

      In terms of working with clients who are court ordered, I think it’s important to keep in mind that they ALWAYS have a choice. Sure, if they fail to follow through on a court order, they will likely face jail time, but it’s still their choice. I usually stress that to the client when I first meet them, even going as far as letting them know I personally respect/admire the decision they made, thanking them for being there with me. The next step is helping them to identify a goal for themselves. Maybe their only goal at the moment is to stay out of jail. Okay, great. So then we talk about what needs to happen in order for them to reach that goal. Beyond that, I encourage them to pick ONE thing to work on with me in therapy, even if the only reason is to “get the court/CPS/probation officer/etc. off their back.” Everyone has SOMEthing they could stand to change or improve on in their lives. The key here is letting them know you’re on their side. You’re there to help them get out of trouble, to make their lives easier.
      As far as motivating people to change, I highly recommend getting some training on Motivational Interviewing, if you haven’t already. It has helped me with that very dilemma tremendously!!! At the end of the day, if someone isn’t willing/ready to change, they always have a reason, and it’s that reason you learn to work with using Motivational Interviewing.
      I hope this helps! Thank you for writing.


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