Leadership: Reclaiming Freedom
“There is no surer way to destruction than prosperity without character” – Calvin Coolidge
Freedom is the fundamental basic foundation of all human beings. Much has been written on this subject, wars have been fought over it, people have died for it and at least one country, The United States of America, was founded on the principles of freedom after much bloodshed.
Today we speak of freedom. We say we are free to do this or do that, to live here or there. In Western society we consider ourselves to be free because we say that we live in a free society. But freedom is like a delicate plant; if it is not properly cared for, watered and nourished, it will wither and die. In order to preserve freedom, we must understand what it is, how we got it and how not to lose it
Freedom has never been free, though many of us today take it for granted.; It is a human right, but it comes at a price. It must be protected against anything that would try to destroy it. In his book entitled 1913, author Oliver DeMille discusses freedom in chapter 6: The Founding of Freedom In Modern Times. He outlines 3 lessons from the Founding Fathers (of the U.S constitution) and their generation
Lesson 1.Citizens must Be Educated
Lesson 2. All Are Created Equal
Lesson 3. Precautions Are Necessary
The first lesson is that freedom can only be present when citizens (indeed, everyone) understands what freedom is, how it works and the importance of preserving it. Ancient civilizations such as the Israelites and Anglo-Saxons trained their citizens to do just this. When a society fails to understand freedom and pass on the importance of maintaining it to future generations, societies begin to disintegrate (such as Rome did). When citizens entrust freedom to a few elected individuals rather than take an active part in preserving it, freedom begins to die.
All people are created equal. This truth is so fundamental and yet, again, so easily forgotten and taken for granted. It means that freedom is for everyone – all, not just for certain groups.
“Freedom denied for a few while the rest of the people are denied freedom isn’t freedom at all” – p. 81
The three main freedoms- political. religious and financial freedoms are for all people, regardless of differences. If for whatever reason, the majority of a population decides to reduce or eliminate the freedoms of any group, then no one in that society is truly free. And, as the author points out, people can not “leave freedom and governance to the experts”.
Power (those in a position of power) will, by its very nature seek to “centralize and expand”. Any society that seeks freedom must set up a system of accountability in its governance. This is what the founding fathers established with the system of “checks and balances” between levels of government. Ultimately, however, the people were to be the ones to keep the government bodies in line so they would not follow the natural path of centralizing and expanding.
“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment of men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding”
Justice Louis Brandeis Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 479 (1928)
Leadership and Freedom
The question that now arises is: Who will step up? All throughout history, these “mavericks” have been few in number, but great in the impâct they have had in preserving freedom. We can name a few of them: Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, and many others. But we do not have to be a person in authority or well known to have an impact.
We all have a dash – that time between our birth and death (“The Dash” by Linda Ellis). Living fully in the dash is to make our lives mean something that makes a difference. One of the ways that we can make that dash count is to actively pursue freedom, not only for ourselves but for our fellow citizens, to learn about it and protect it.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead
The author dedicates three chapters to describing the three main characteristics of future leaders who can make a difference in the future.
Voracious Readers and Independant Thinkers
Tribal Leaders (Seth Godin)
There is an integral connection between entrepreneurial spirit and freedom. Organically, the entrepreneurial spirit seeks to stand up and fight to meet and overcome obstacles. Entrepreneurship is at the very root of Western Civilization. A commercially based society is a free society. This kind of society promotes opportunity, prosperity, transparency, and freedom of expression. Indeed, the values of entrepreneurship are the values of freedom.
The first quality of the leaders needed in the future is the quality of an entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs understand freedom and the need to preserve it. They understand the need for innovation, independence, prosperity, and contribution in order to preserve a free society.
Voracious Readers and Independent Thinkers
Historically, free nations such as Ancient Isreal, Athens, and Switzerland have been well known for the predominance of an extensive reading culture and an openness to independent debating. America was also founded on this culture. People in the early days of America were well-read and versed in the literature of the day. They participated in and followed public debates. Because the people were a reading generation, they were also a well-informed generation that took responsibility for their society and held their elected officials in check.
When education becomes more as a means to an end, such as training to have a career rather than learning to become more aware and knowledgeable, then the understanding of the role of government, freedoms, and prosperity become side issues. and the result, if this trend continues, is the loss of the understanding that all people need to be as knowledgeable and informed as those leading our society.
Future leaders need to read widely, become informed through reading and researching to learn about freedom. to learn what our leaders know in order to be able to understand all policies and decisions that impact our freedoms. And we need to go beyond the “official education” taught in schools.
The real lessons taught in our schools are things such as ” Confusion”, “Class position”, and “Mindless Obedience to Officials” – John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teach of the Year (1991)
Tribal leaders, business leaders, and community leaders are all of the same breeds. We need people who share and promote common goals, ideas, interests and other of a common group or community in an organic way. The tribal environment is the opposite of the hierarchical authoritative environment It represents a shift fro management to leadership, away from authoritarian to cooperation.
The concept of tribal leadership evokes the idea of grassroots leaders from the ground up. And this is precisely what the founding fathers were aiming for when they proposed local governance that was held accountable by the people by their active participation.
Leaders of the future, who hope to pursue and preserve freedoms, must understand the concept of local governance through involvement in, participation in community organizations within larger organizations. Business leaders that build communities of interacting members, eventually build leaders who will, in turn, build leadership communities. Leaders of the future will need to understand that freedom and its preservation requires active participation and vigilance. It requires an accountability system so that freedoms are not only placed in the hands of the few.
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Diana Lynne loves to travel, pursue self-improvement and debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and her dog Skye. You can connect with her through livingandstuff.ca