Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Freedom - Where Does It Come From?

"Here we have freedom of thought, freedom in the choice and enjoyment of education, freedom in religion, freedom in politics, freedom in the choice of a business, profession or occupation, freedom to accumulate and own without molestation all the property we can accumulate, freedom to choose our place of residence, freedom in marriage, freedom through equal opportunity to all races, freedom of travel from one state to another, freedom in our choice of foods, and freedom to aim for any station in life for which we have prepared ourselves, even for the Presidency of the United States."

I read these words Monday night on a flight between Minneapolis and Philadelphia. The very same flight that was at least half filled with individuals on their way to the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C. today (or so it seemed based on the conversations around me).

The above words are very powerful words. And to be quite frank, I couldn't believe that I found them in the book that I have recently "found again". I wasn't as much astonished by the words themselves, as much as who wrote them and when they were written. Believe it or not, these inspiring words were written in 71 years ago in 1937 by Napolean Hill, in his landmark book, "Think and Grow Rich". And the "Here" that he is referring to is the United States of America, in the middle of the Great Depression.

Why does it amaze me so much that these words are older my parents? Simply because truer words have never been spoken. And if these profound words can be spoken in such a dark economic time in our country's history, why are they so hard to believe in today's world. Have things changed that much? Are we that far gone, that the words no longer apply to us?

I don't think so. But I do think we are a society that has been so transfixed recently on "hope" and "change" that we have missed the fact that neither of those two things are even a vision - they are just paths to a vision. Freedom . . . is our vision - at least according the documents that we hold as our guiding principles.

When working with clients, there is one thing that I always try to make sure they understand. If, in our desire to create change in our lives, we focus first on creating change, rather than understanding where you are trying to go, you are just as likely to end up somewhere worse than you were when you started.

"We often hear politicians proclaiming the freedom of America when they solicit votes, but seldom do they take the time or devote sufficient effort to the analysis of the source or nature of this "freedom". Having no axe to grind, no grudge to express, no ulterior motives to be carried out, I have the privilege of going into a frank analysis of that mysterious, abstract, greatly misunderstood "something" which gives to every citizen of America more blessings, more opportunities to accumulate wealth, more freedom of every nature, than may be found in any other country.

I have the right to analyze the source and nature of this unseen power, because I know, and have known for more than a half century, many of the men who organized that power, and many who are now responsible for its maintenance.

The name of this mysterious benefactor of mankind is capital!

Capital consists not alone of money, but more particularly of highly organized, intelligent groups of men who plan ways and means of using money efficiently for the good of the public, and profitably to themselves."

So stop and think about what you want, before you decide to run away from Capitalism. In our desire to control Capitalism, we may in fact be destroying the building block that gives us the freedoms that we hold so dear.

* All quoted text in this blog are excerpts from Napolean Hill's Think and Grow Rich, 1937.

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