Martin Ahrens / by Michael Falco

Who is Martin Ahrens?

Martin Ahrens grew up in a working class family in a very homogeneous town surrounded by farms in southern Ontario, Canada. To the best of his knowledge, there was only one black family in a population of 20,000 total, and nobody else of non-European ancestry. He earned undergraduate degrees in philosophy and biology, and eventually a Ph.D. in biology from McGill University in Montreal. His first significant contact with people of non-European ethnicity was when he emigrated to New York at the age of 38. He moved to Richmond in 2007 at age 58 for a job as a financial services executive, and currently works as a real estate agent. He grew up in a fundamentalist church, became an agnostic in college, and dabbled in Zen and liberal Christianity for several years. He now considers himself a committed Christian, devoted to the Gospel message of love for all.

Excerpt from interview with Martin Ahrens by Whitney Dow, 2018

Q: Do you consider yourself conservative or liberal? Do you identify with a particular party?

Ahrens: [12:09:51] I’ve never voted Republican, I have often voted Democrat, and a couple of times I’ve voted Libertarian. I think I might have voted Green once. I’m not sure. So, I guess that makes me kind of liberal leaning. Given my diversity of experience and points of view on things, I’m very—in principle, I’m often drawn to the fundamental principles of Libertarians. I often find myself finding Libertarians lacking because of what I would call a lack of compassion, but I also recognize that you don’t have to have compassion. It ultimately isn’t a political issue. Compassion is a personal issue. You know, nothing’s stopping a Libertarian from devoting all of his time and energy to helping people. Libertarians feel that politically it’s no business of the government helping those people.

Well, okay, fine, so do it yourself. You know, you can do that. You can be a compassionate Libertarian. Maybe that’s where I am.

Q: Do you consider yourself an American?

Ahrens: [12:11:31] Yes, I consider myself an American. Yes. I certainly identify much more with being an American than I would identify with being a Canadian.


I spent the first thirty-eight years of my life in Canada, which is known as a more—let’s say a less aggressive society traditionally than the U.S. Moving into the American world of business—and, by the way, I wasn’t in the business world in Canada; I worked for the government—but I was struck by something that I haven’t even imagined. That there’s a kind of triumvirate of sources. Sports, business, and the military sort of are closely linked in the U.S. Guys who have sort of military experience and were really successful at team sports tend to be leaders in business. I don’t know if that’s hormonal or what it is, but that just is a phenomenon that comes up over and over again. I assume that if you’re a hard driving guy who has got that kind of background you’re going to tend to hire and promote guys that resemble you.

By the way, I said guys, didn’t I? Oh, by the way, the great majority of them are also white. It’s a package.

Interview Transcript