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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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