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Free persons will make their obligation to follow the laws of their nation contingent on a universal system of empowerment that tends to unite our values. But the chance to do so – and save millions of lives – is not something we ever talk about. Below are two moves you can make to change that. 

We formed Fair Start because many of our members, in prior public statements about our work and successes, omitted facts that would have revealed that our claims were inaccurate, with the progress being undone by other factors. These were factors from which we were fundamentally benefiting at deadly cost to others, and our omissions hid life-saving entitlements. I personally omitted these facts – enriching myself, and other white families, at deadly cost to many black children.

Many others are doing the same.



Omitting positionality, and its costs for others 

These omissions hid the full impact of our positionality, climatologically and otherwise, in contradiction of the values we all live (like evading deadly heat waves, being counted as an influential equal in politics, wanting at least the choice to have children in safe conditions, etc.) – including the value of self-determination. They also delayed and minimized climate reparations, skewing the baseline used to determine them. At base, the omissions hid that we were benefiting from coercive and obligatory legal systems the protected current entitlements without paying the correlative costs: Ensuring, at birth, children’s rights to political equity.

These omissions hid an obvious error in our thinking about what it means to be free, for nations to be sovereign and legitimate, and the role that laws around the world governing families play in this. The error combined with the climate crisis will mean the death of millions, many of whom could be saved if we admit and reverse the mistake.

Freedom or autonomy to do what you want always follows and flows from the freedom or autonomy of being physically included as an equal in your democracy. Simply as a matter of logic, who we should be comes first, and it derives – and should derive – from our creation and development, relative to others and our environment. Adults with human rights – our first and inescapable obligations to others – would first have had rights as children, rights which would have also defined the reproductive rights that should have guide our creation, so that we are not born into conditions and with power relations that functionally disabled the rights. This is not altruism, but a commitment to being truly free by first limiting who has influence over you, and the amount of influence they have, through family reforms that ensure children enter the world and are raised in conditions consistent with their joining communities of free persons.

Those who accumulated wealth because of a misplaced sense of freedom – freedom from environmental regulations, from being a responsible parent, from the requirement to not take what you did not earn – were just harming others, benefiting by placing the true costs on others. They were acting in a way that determined the lives of others using birth positionality and ecological impacts, not in a free, or relatively self-determining, way. They owe those costs to the future children they harmed.



Equity, or a share of control, as the first move towards freedom 

Fair Start means children being born and raised with real equity – where each person eventually can offset the influence of others in a measurable way, and control through rulemaking who has influence or power over them. The first entitlements in any political system belong to would-be parents, not government or the wealthy. They belong to those plan families around child equity using seven concrete metrics based on values we all live day to day. The rules of creation are unique because the values become inextricable in the act, including the value of subjective choice.

The entitlements – structured around antiracism and decolonization – enable parents delaying having kids until they are truly ready, as well as having and raising those kids at a time, in a place, and with resources where those children can truly self-determine and thus legitimate the nations they form. As such we all have more of a right and responsibility to enforce those primary entitlements than the government, or any group, has to deny them.

Obligation to follow the law is conditional on being empowered through birth and developmental positionality. Dare anyone to logically explain to you how we get to a fair system with an unfair start – without the equity of an equal and influential role in making the fundamental rules that limit the influence we have over each other. We get to true reproductive autonomy – in the fullest sense where women who can terminate pregnancies don’t later die in anthropogenic heat waves – via birth equity for future children, without which autonomy becomes impossible.

Starting in 2004 I helped raise millions for animal charities by claiming to use the U.S. legal system to save the lives of animals. The statements I made carried deadly omissions, making them inaccurate. The focus on low impact micro victories hid that progress was being undone – and in deadly ways – on a macro level that was taking infinitely more animals than I was saving. Often we siloed off the issue of nonhuman rights because it was easier to raise money, avoid complexity, and evade additional controversy. Often we avoided the issue of birth equity because leaders did not want to examine their own children’s unearned privileges, or because they had quietly given up on their professed causes while retaining their positions and salaries. The combined impact of those silos, across the spectrum of public interest work, led us to the word in which we live today.

In truth that legal system – like almost all around the world – offered no real protection to nonhumans or the future children that will determine animals’ lives, because it did not financially entitle would-be parents to plan well, in an equitable way that will not harm both the children and the nonhumans. The system, like many others, was on balance – at a macro level – eradicating animals and exacerbating the climate crisis for the most vulnerable humans in what is accurately described as racist ecocide. Through my omissions I hid the error described above and the claims many have to reparations.

This, along with the withdrawal of litigation meant to begin to reverse the error described above, helped many wealthy funders backing those and other organizations evade or reduce liability for the climate crisis. I hid how the legal system was undermining its own legitimacy – acting like a one-sided social contract, robbing future children of their rights to minimum levels of welfare, equality of opportunity, and safe and natural environment, and an equal and influential voice in governance while obligating them to follow laws that protected property rights, for example.



The deadly costs of what is not said

I benefited from hiding the true nature of what I was doing: Fundamentally placing deadly costs on children that undid what I was claiming to do for animals, both socially and ecologically, children like Anthony Avalos who was tortured to death by his caregivers, and Mbabazi Judith, who died in eastern Uganda of the malaria the climate crisis is making more deadly. The system from which I benefitted systematically disenfranchised and treated them as economic inputs – as means, rather than as empowered ends comprising democracies.

Theirs and millions of children’s deaths derived – fundamentally – from a system that benefits me and others by protecting current entitlements, allowing us to determine the lives of others, rather than ensuring the primary parental entitlements that help constitute free nations. It could have been any of us that died in this way, and justice starts with being empathetic enough to avoid these situations by exploiting others as means as they enter the world. Equity does not conflict with autonomy if we ensure it precedes it between birth and emancipation, but the human brain struggles with time frames this large, and many have taken advantage of this fact.

Take Action: 

Some are beginning to fix this deadly problem with two simple moves: 1) Making the same admission we make here and urging others to do likewise, moving towards the truth and the language of dynamic and conditional political obligation. Find specific and public statements they have made, and engage them.

Then 2) urge them to begin modeling the changes above, including giving equitable, family planning entitlements as climate reparations, and as our primary obligation even before taxes, to ensure governance and obligation actually flow from the governed. Engage the adult children and employees of those who should be modeling this change the most, and understand what’s at stake.

Freedom, or self-determination, by definition first flows from the restoration of nature (a baseline defined by the relative absence of human influence) achieved via delayed parenting, which is entitled through birth and developmental equity funding pegged inverse to wealth. This is owed as the first and overriding human right, and it allows each to be relatively free at the most fundamental level from the ecological and social influence of others – and thus capable of constituting a system of legitimate governance.

This process does not need violence because unlike our current system it is politically inclusive, or constitutive. All rules should be fair, and that which determines our creation is the first rule. That rule contains an inescapable logic: That if government truly derives from the governed, young women would have justification to obtain funds for life-saving equitable family planning entitlements – to give all kids a fair start in life – and actually constitute legitimate nations and become a “we,” more than the state would have to use violence to keep that wealth where it is.

For example, here we would want a United States Senator to alter and complete legislation for “baby bonds.” In reality, all of his authority is premised on the change because without it he’s not really representing democratically empowered citizens. The same could be said of courts’ authority to judge the legality of protests to constitute a better future. To ignore these limits is to focus on the symbolic, and not the real. The United Nations could easily (and really should) say so and make the first move in taking human rights seriously. There is no inclusive “we” from which to coercively assign property or other rights without this primary process. 



This is social change through role modeling. It can actually help evade acts of mass violence – long run – from the many who feel disempowered. It can do so by revealing those who truly benefitted from the political process, and how to reverse it peacefully.

All of this is not a matter of academics or research. It’s just a factual history and a action commitment to not being obligated to follow the laws of nations that do not empower all members in an equitable and measurable way.

Join the Fair Start Tell the Truth and Act Campaign with the two moves above and bend the arc of our species towards a better future.


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