Thursday, November 27, 2014

Freedom Focused

Freedom Focused seeks to ignite the cultural championing of personal freedom. The freedom I speak of is not freedom from hardship and responsibility—the freedom to do as you please—but the freedom to become all you are capable of becoming as a fully actualized human being. I speak of the freedom to move forward in your life, to conquer your flaws, and to become successful, prosperous, and happy.

Many people view freedom as a means of escaping duty and responsibility—the so-called right to do whatever you want. In truth, you are free to think, say, and do what you want. The trouble is you are not free from the consequences of your choices. Because you cannot control consequences, doing whatever you please may bring short-term pleasure, but often ends in long-term pain, failure, misery, and poverty of all kinds. Everyone has the right to make poor choices. But no one has the power to evade the accompanying negative and painful consequences that inevitably result from so doing.

Truly, what goes around does indeed come around. True freedom, therefore, must always be earned; and its attainment can only be secured by paying the price set by True Principles.

Oftentimes, people seek freedom from toil, trouble, challenges, and self-reliance. Individuals interested in Existential Growth, however, must seek freedom to. Freedom to what? Freedom to pursue education and other opportunities; freedom to transcend personal obstacles and weakness; and freedom to become self-reliant. What kind of freedom do you seek? Freedom from or freedom to? [1] How you answer this question throughout your life will largely determine the extent of your personal freedom and Existential Growth.

My invitation to you, therefore, is to become FREEDOM FOCUSED. But remember that both liberty and freedom come with a price—and often a heavy one.


THE PRICE OF LIBERTY

I have had the privilege of walking peacefully among the legions of graves in some of our Nation’s largest military cemeteries. From Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and Sam Houston National Cemetery in Texas, to Marietta National Cemetery in Georgia and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, I have reverently and thoughtfully meandered passed tens of thousands of headstones marking the final resting places of those who gave their lives that this nation might live. [2] When I consider the heavy price in blood and treasure expended to maintain our nation’s liberty and safety over the past 250 years, my soul is subdued, and my heart swells with thanksgiving. Liberty is not free. It comes with a price—usually a high price that in some instances prove fatal.


USS Arizona Memorial & gravesite of 1,102 Sailors and Marines ~ Pearl Harbor; Honolulu, HI


With World War II Combat veteran Robert Wai (aged 95) of Honolulu, Hawaii, at his home in 2014. Wai served in the U.S. Army and helped liberate the Philippines. On the wall is a picture of his brother Francis Wai, a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor recipient during the Clinton administration. Francis died fighting in the Pacific in 1944. (Photo included with permission of Wai).

I honor and venerate the men and women who were willing to pay whatever price liberty demanded throughout our history. As their courageous lives—and sometimes deaths—illustrate, the price of liberty is high and hard to pay, yet securing it for oneself and one’s family and fellow citizens is priceless.

It is because of these brave men and women that I feel so authentically proud of my Country. I am also proud of my native State—Utah—and my adopted state—Texas. I cherish the history of my Nation and States. Utah’s history of pilgrimage and pioneers and Texas’ history of revolution and independence are microcosms of America’s story. The challenges the Utah pioneers faced in overcoming prejudice and persecution and then taming a wilderness to settle a new land in the mid-nineteenth century paralleled the experiences of European settlers who immigrated to the Eastern Seaboard in the early-mid seventeenth century. Likewise, Texans dealt with Mexican tyranny and brutality in ways that mirrored the U.S.’s clashes with Great Britain a half-century earlier. Both eventually declared their independence from foreign foes in official, signed Declarations of Independence, and both eventually drafted their own constitution that wisely gave power to the people. Texas was, in fact, an independent republic for nine years prior to joining the U.S. as the 28th State in 1845. Both Colonists and Texans spilt priceless blood on the battlefield en route to gaining their independence.

Each year in April, I participate in the reenactment of the Battle of San Jacinto, which is the battle whereby Texans revenged their bloody losses at the Alamo and elsewhere to win their independence from Mexico in 1836. My good friend, Frank McLane, Jr., and I are part of the Texas Army. Frank plays an especially prominent role--that of James Sylvester, the flag bearer. The flag carried into that historically pivotal battle displays the image of a bare-breasted “Lady Liberty.” Hardly a display of nineteenth century pornography, this image was intended to illustrate and personify the vulnerability of liberty. The idea was to remind Texas citizens that they must be vigilant in protecting their personal liberties, lest they be ravished by a foreign or domestic foe. During the Texas Revolution of 1835-1836, the Mexican dictator and self-proclaimed Napoleon of the West—Antonio L√≥pez de Santa Ana—attempted to ravish the liberty of Texans with his well-equipped and well-trained Mexican Army. Though ultimately victorious, the Texans lost many lives fighting to protect their own liberty, which had grown vulnerable under the tyrannical reign of Santa Ana.

One of my favorite examples of Self-Action Leadership in American historical literature is a letter written by Sullivan Ballou, a Major in the Union Army (2nd Rhode Island Volunteers) at the outset of the Civil War. An educated man, Ballou was a successful, 32-year old lawyer in Providence when war broke out between North and South. Responding to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers, Ballou enlisted, was elected an officer, and led his troops into battle against the Confederate Army at the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), where he was shot and killed.

Before the battle, however, Ballou laid bare the tremendous love he had for both his family and country in an eloquent letter. This letter, one of the most famous in the history of American warfare, eloquently highlights that some things really are worth dying for. It also provides a unique portrait of SAL in action.

Headquarters, Camp Clark
Washington, D.C., July 15, 1861 
My Very Dear Wife: 
Indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days, perhaps to-morrow. Lest I should not be able to write you gain, I feel impelled to write a few lines, that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. … If it is necessary that I should fall on the battle-field for [my] country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American civilization now leans upon the triumph of the government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution, and I am willing, perfectly willing to lay down all my joys in this life to help maintain this government, and to pay that debt. …

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death, and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently … for a wrong motive in this hazarding the happiness of those I loved, and I could not find one. A pure love of my country, and of the principles I have often advocated before the people, and “the name of honor, that I love more than I fear death” have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless. It seems to bind me with mighty cables, that nothing but Omnipotence can break; and yet, my love of country comes over me like a strong wind, and bears me irresistibly on with all those chains, to the battlefield. The memories of all the blissful moments I have spent with you come crowding over me, and I feel most deeply grateful to God and you, that I have enjoyed them so long. And how hard it is for me to give them up, and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our boys grow up to honorable manhood around us.

… If I do not [return], my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, nor that, when my last breath escapes me on the battle-field, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless, how foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears, every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot, I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah, if the dead can come back to this earth, and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you in the garish day, and the darkest night amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours always, always, and, if the soft breeze fans your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air cools your throbbing temples, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dear; think I am gone, and wait for me, for we shall meet again. …
Sullivan [3]

THE PRICE OF FREEDOM


Freedom, like liberty, also comes with a heavy price. Its price tags include heavy investments of time, effort, diligence, work, sacrifice, determination, persistence, consistence, and patience. Meeting its exacting demands can sometimes seem overwhelming. But if you are willing to pay the price of freedom, you will, in due time, be compensated many-fold for your desires and diligence. Being Freedom Focused pays big time. While you may not receive your “Paychecks” as soon or as often as you would like, they always come eventually if you are willing to pay the prices to earn it. And in many cases, the compensation exceeds the price many fold.

Like liberty, personal freedom is also susceptible to invasions and attacks from forces both internal and external. Like your virtue, it must be willingly upheld, dutifully defended, and vigilantly protected, or you will most assuredly lose it.

At Freedom Focused, nothing in the world except life itself compares to the value and importance of personal freedom. And as Victor Frankl and American POWs so compellingly illustrated in transcending the horrors of Auschwitz and the Hanoi Hilton, freedom is even more vital than liberty.

I seek after and cherish freedom beyond more than anything else in my life, including liberty. Freedom is virtually everything to me. It is my life’s most salient, single focus. It is also my greatest personal quest. It is the reason I named my company Freedom Focused.

Freedom Focused

I am Freedom Focused.
Focused, that is, on Freedom.

Freedom from tyrants,
And evil and terror,

Freedom from bias,
Injustice, and error,

But most of all . . .

Freedom from myself,
And the devil within.
A fiend far more fearsome
Than the author of sin.

Freedom in all its glorious majesty,
And liberating bliss,
Will be mine forever
If I’ll remember this:
True Principles exist and govern
Outside of all human opinion,
And Serendipity
Has my back and yours
As long as we do our part,

Therefore:
I truly
Am
Sovereign,
And by extension

I am also FREE
To be
The kind of Man
I want to be
In this life,
And throughout
All eternity.

I am, therefore, Freedom Focused
Focused, that is, on
Freedom,
Now,
&
Forever.



“In the long run [you] hit only what [you] aim at.”
Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862)





Next Blog Post: Monday, December 1, 2014 ~ Chapter 9: Ask Not


[1] I first learned this concept from Felicia Cockrell, who was introduced to it by a friend.  Others have also written on the subject, as illustrated by related quotes in BOOK THE SECOND, Chapter 13, where Felicia’s remarkable SAL story is highlighted.
[2] Phrase from the Gettysburg Address.
[3] The full transcript of Sullivan Ballou’s famous letter can be found at the National Park Service website at URL: http://www.nps.gov/resources/story.htm?id=253

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