Perspectives: Increasing our personal candlepower

OPINION – I hadn’t planned on making any New Year’s resolutions this year. I changed my mind after my daughter inspired me by playing a certain song on her iPod while we were traveling.

She knew that “Wichita Lineman” is one of my favorite Glen Campbell songs. As we listened, she related explained why she had added the song to her playlist.

While she and her sister were working in Alaska last summer, they heard this song come on the radio in a store where they were shopping. She told me that both of them had to stop in their tracks and take a few moments to think about me and how I would appreciate the song.

During the rest of our drive, I reflected on how the seemingly inconsequential things often have more lasting impact than we might imagine. If a song could inspire my daughters to remember our times together with fondness, what other simple acts might likewise have a positive impact on others?

After some further reflection, I decided that my goal for the coming year is to become a light of liberty in attracting others to the cause of freedom. Note that I’ve used the word “attracting” as opposed to “compelling” them to consider the ideas that form the foundations of individual freedom, free markets, and limited government.

I choose to make liberty a priority because I recognize the importance of transferring these ideas to my children and the generations that have yet to be born. This recognition only came after many years of sincere study of the best wisdom of hundreds of generations that preceded us and their relentless effort to provide illumination for those who followed them.

They were not perfect and we are certainly not perfect either but the blessings of liberty are worth perpetuating.

My resolution does not require that I seek to change or improve the people around me. Instead, it will begin with improving the one individual over whom I have the greatest influence–myself.

When it comes to increasing one’s personal candlepower, Leonard E. Read’s speech “How to Advance Liberty” is a gold mine of powerful ideas.

Read points one to three of ascending levels of leadership that can make a lasting difference in advancing the cause of liberty.

Level one

The first level requires that a person have a degree of understanding that makes it impossible to lend his advocacy to anything that is contradictory to liberty. It requires knowing the difference between individual rights and collectivism in its many guises.

Either we have the right to choose our own happiness, fulfillment, and purpose in life, or we are enslaved to the power and goals of others.

Anyone who reads Bastiat’s “The Law” will have the basic intellectual ammunition to recognize the misuse of official power in any society. This is the level at which a person learns to recognize and withhold his or her support from unsound policies and practices.

Level two

The second level of leadership requires that a person be capable of understanding and pointing out the fallacies that accompany bad government. It also means being able to explain the principles of liberty and the free market to anyone who comes within our orbit.

At this level of leadership, we will have done enough personal scholarship to where we can answer questions regarding socialism and the free market without having to “think it through.” Our foundational principles will have already been thought through.

Here, Read warns, is where the temptation becomes strongest to inflict our understanding on the unwilling. Instead, he counseled, let them come to us.

Level three

At the third level of leadership, Read speaks of a point where our understanding and ability to explain liberty inspires others to seek us out as a tutor. Few people will ever reach this level of leadership but consistently reaching for it will increase the amount of light we bring to the people around us.

One test of how well we are succeeding is found in whether people or not people are actively seeking our counsel. The dynamic inspiring others to seek us out is not our zeal to improve them; it’s our willingness to improve ourselves.

I will continue working to improve my own understanding and my ability to articulate and persuasively explain the cause of liberty to those who are actively seeking greater light. Those who are indifferent or who reject the ideas of individual liberty are free to continue believing as they choose.

A few candles in a darkened room can make a world of difference. Likewise, a small number of liberty-minded people can provide needed illumination to a darkening world.

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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • arts and letters January 12, 2015 at 11:53 am

    “Anyone who reads Bastiat’s “The Law” will have the basic intellectual ammunition to recognize the misuse of official power in any society.”

    Here is where this all gets very dicey, Mr. Hyde. It is that little word “misuse” that causes a lot of problems. The big question remains, “Who will determine “the misuse of official power” from the appropriate use of official power. Or are you arguing against any kind of power at all – official or not.

    Methinks you’re begging a long list of questions in your pompous goal to become “a light of liberty.”

    One could even say that you are misusing your official power as a columnist by pushing your political agenda despite your coy and duplicitous demurrals that you are not.

  • Koolaid January 12, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    In the velvet darkness of the blackest night, burning bright, there’s a guiding star. No matter what or who you are. There’s a light over at the Frankenstein Place. There’s a light burning in the fireplace. There’s a light, light, in the darkness of everybody’s life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vK2u4y7J58I

  • Dave Rabbitt January 12, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    Is it contradictory to liberty:

    To DEMAND that agents of the Federal Government “stand down” to a handful of “armed” protesters?
    To DEMAND that the Federal Government rebuild the town that you just burned to the ground?
    To DEMAND that the Federal Government “demilitarize” it agents?
    To DEMAND that the State and Local Government “demilitarize its agents”?
    To DEMAND that the use of the word “God” be stricken from this nation’s Pledge of Allegiance or its currency?
    To DEMAND that we (as AMERICAN citizens) “embrace” a Muslim ideology?
    To DEMAND that we (as AMERICAN citizens) “embrace” same-sex marriages?
    To DEMAND that we (as AMERICAN citizens) give up any/all of our personal “freedoms of speech”, by eliminating ALL racist / prejudiced words from our vocabulary – but it’s “OK” if others refer to “WHITES” as “Cracker, or Redneck”?

    There are people throwing their children off of bridges, trafficking them as slaves, betrothing them to men old enough to be their grandfather. Yet we, as Washington County Utah residents – are MORE concerned about “our pursuit of happiness” in marrying the same sex, dancing without a permit and a lack of sufficient “nightlife entertainment”, than we are with the REAL problems, in our society.

    It is NOT a matter of “bad government”, but altogether a matter of “bad citizens”. Do we REALLY want to be led by the MINORITY who DEMAND EQUALITY, while they conveniently ignore what the MAJORITY of our citizens believe in?

    I used to respect the columns Bryan Hyde wrote. But it would seem that he and his fellow “opinion writer” Ed Kociela have nothing better to do, than corrupt OUR “old school” ideologies, with their New Wave rhetoric. And it is MY willingness to improve MYSELF, but “rejecting your reality and (reestablishing) my own”.

    A few candles in a darkened room… casts a lot of shadows, Mr. Hyde.

  • Roy J January 12, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    While the advancement of liberty as it is presented in this opinion may sound like a good idea, what that term means, and the method that is employed to achieve it makes all the difference. Unfortunately, whether Bryan knows it or not (and probably not), his suggestion to pour over Bastiat will never produce people capable of thinking for themselves, though this may produce libertarian activists. But there is a worse problem with the form of leadership being suggested here, and that is in the methodology. I don’t know if anybody else bothered to read the Leonard Read article (experience says no), but if you did, you should be concerned with the following statement:

    “We must, as a starter, know the importance of a premise, and then find one – that is, if we would work effectively in liberty’s vineyard. The first rule, when searching for a premise, is to find one that can be adhered to – come hell or high water. The second rule is to go as deep into idealism as possible, for any shallow premise will serve only when discussing peripheral or shallow subjects. Get one that will do service on any matter that may pass through an inquiring mind, one so deeply embedded in a concept of rightness that, once embraced, you would never forsake…with this highly personal objective as a major premise, I can now listen to anyone’s proposal or examine one of my own ideas and analyze the proposal or idea in the light of the premise. Should either one turn out to be antagonistic to this adopted life purpose, I must, perforce, conclude it is wrong. If, on the other hand, the proposal or idea is found to promote and harmonize with my objective, I must conclude it is sound, moral, proper; I stand in its favor.”
    This sort of adherence to a first principle is the exact opposite of Anslem’s “faith seeking understanding”. It is, however, the position of Nietzche,and all those concerned with persuasion rather than understanding. You cannot invent your first principles, however clever you may be. They either exist irrespective of your consent, or they do not. Aristotle had but one answer to this sort of narrow-minded thinker, and that was to ignore them entirely, since it was useless to reason with someone who could not submit their first principles to scrutiny. Or, as Cardinal John Henry Newman, who is a better, wiser authority than Leonard Read will ever be, has said,
    “…we may err grievously in the antecedent view that we start with, and in that case, our conclusions may be wide of the truth; but that only shows that we had no right to assume a premiss that was untrustworthy…”

    • Roy J January 12, 2015 at 7:35 pm

      Anselm. Hem.

    • arts and letters January 12, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      I did take a look at Mr. Read’s essay and I applaud your response to it, Roy. Well done.

      • Roy J January 14, 2015 at 11:56 am

        Thanks, A & L, I like your picture. 🙂

  • BunnyRabbit2015 January 13, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Read perspective guy’s garbage and get a little dumber… why bother?

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