Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Last Best Hope of Earth

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Mohandas Gandhi(1869-1948)

In 1979, Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize. When asked what individuals could do to promote world peace, she replied: “Go home and take care of your families.” That august sage of the Indian subcontinent understood the great truth that macro problems cannot be solved externally; they must be internally repaired. Our nation’s greatest problems begin at home, and our greatest problems at home begin inside the minds, hearts, and souls of individuals.

America as a whole is powerful and great because of individuals and families who are honest, hard working, and self-reliant. Conversely, America’s biggest problems are rooted in broken families, which result when individuals abdicate their familial and/or personal responsibilities. Fix broken individuals and broken families and you fix America. It's that simple; it is also that difficult.

“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.

I wanted to change the world, but I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.”

Aldous Huxley(1894-1963)

If you want to change the world, change yourself. America – or any other nation – is only as great as the citizens that comprise her. That includes you, me, and everyone else. When a system’s micro components are strengthened, the macro system itself is refined and fortified.


This book calls for a national revitalization of American strength and character. Self-Action Leadership provides a means of constructing and maintaining American Greatness. We’ll leave the strengthening of other areas—military, political, economic, agricultural, energy, and spiritual-religious—to experts in those fields. Freedom Focused suggests a 3-point educational-based formula for resurrecting American greatness in the twenty-first century. 

1. Peace through Strength

2. Strength through Freedom & Unity

3. Freedom & Unity through Integrity to True Principles

America must remain the strongest nation on Earth—economically, militarily, educationally, and morally—for the safety and prosperity of We the People as well as all other nations. If America does not lead, someone else—who does not place the same value on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—will, to the detriment of all mankind.

I admire John F. Kennedy. I think that in some ways, he deserves to be ranked among our nation’s best and strongest leaders. While I do not respect some of the ways in which he chose to conduct his personal and political life, I do admire the strength of his leadership during his brief stint as our Commander-in-Chief. This admiration springs largely from the philosophy of peace through strength that Kennedy championed.

As a young man in the late 1930s, Kennedy spent time in London, England, where he observed the workings of a well intentioned, but ultimately weak, British government. Led by then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, Kennedy watched as Britain infamously made “peace” with Adolf Hitler only a few short years before Nazi bombs were raining down on English cities. These vicious, unprovoked air raids killed 40,000 people in London alone during the Battle of Britain in 1940; so much for peace. A budding world leader, Kennedy learned early in his life that evil exists and that evil leaders do not respect weakness—militarily or otherwise.

Later, as President, embracing the paradigm of peace through strength empowered Kennedy to successfully steer the country through the Cuban Missile Crisis without starting a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. President Kennedy’s successful handling of this crisis ranks among the finest foreign policy achievements in our country’s history. His actions were bold, audacious, and courageous. More importantly, they were rooted in the principle that peace is best achieved not through acquiescence and capitulation, but through undeviating courage backed by hard power.

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility—I welcome it. … Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. … We dare not tempt [our enemies] with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.[1]
The mantra, peace through strength, dates back to the ancient Roman Emperor, Hadrian, who built his famous wall in Britain as an eponymous symbol of a robust foreign policy. Our nation’s first great general, George Washington, echoed Hadrian’s wisdom when he said: “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”

Ever eager to prevent World War III with the Soviet Union, most post-World War II Presidents enthusiastically embraced this ideology as the basis of American foreign policy. Resurrecting Hadrian’s famous phrase as a political mantra empowered Ronald Reagan to defeat Jimmy Carter in the 1980 Presidential Election. After winning the Presidency, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush after him, constructed America’s foreign policy around the principle of peace through strength. Today, Reagan and Bush Sr. are widely credited as instrumental authors of the peace with the Soviet Union that marked the end of the twentieth century.

When I was born in 1979, the United States was still fighting the Cold War with the Soviet Union. This fact was not lost on my young friends and me. As little boys growing up in the 1980s, our imaginary playtime battles virtually always pitted us against either “The Germans” or “The Russians.” There was something noble—even on the playground—in fighting to defeat forces (i.e. fascism and communism) that sought to undermine personal liberty, freedom, opportunity, safety, and prosperity.

When I was 10 years old, something unthinkably wonderful happened; the Berlin Wall fell. Two years later, in a seeming instant, the Soviet Union’s evil communistic empire had been relegated to where it belonged—the pages of history. The United States remained the world’s lone superpower, and it seemed as though nothing could stop the proliferation of liberty and freedom backed by American opportunity, prosperity, and power. American virtues were further displayed in the dramatic successes of our coalition forces against the evil tyrant Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War.

The following year, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and the rest of the original Dream Team personified American excellence on the Olympic basketball courts of Barcelona, Spain. The apex of American Greatness had peaked in an unprecedented display of athletic artistry and dominance. As the decade wore on, the synergistic fruits of self-government, the rule of law, the Protestant Work Ethic, Christian brotherly kindness and generosity, and free markets flourished as never before for the whole world to see—and seek to replicate. America’s present power and future preeminence seemed assured. I was privileged to grow up a U.S. citizen in the midst of this, her greatest period of collective prosperity.

Unfortunately, this power and prosperity has not continued unabated. A decade-and-a-half into the twenty-first century, we now find ourselves increasingly unsure of our identity and role in a world that has grown increasingly complicated, hostile, and dangerous. In the midst of these growing complexities and hazards, the world needs a strong America more than ever. The United States must lead! To do so, we must curb our individual and collective slide down the slippery slope of diminished power and influence. Likewise, we must reverse the troubling trends of individual indiscipline, dishonesty, selfishness, and lack of self-reliance.

The dam that will stop this increasingly unchecked flow of decay and decline will be built with metaphorical concrete and steel poured and forged in many different fields. Our focus is education—the dam’s foundation. The dam itself must be built by experts and leaders in other vital arenas, including, business, energy, agriculture, religion, politics, and government. Leaders and performers in journalism, pop culture, art, literature, music, athletics, and every other field must also play key roles in restoring American greatness. Such roles are played best when actors, actresses, artists, musicians, and athletes seek to influence their audiences to embrace True Principles instead of fleeing from them.

And to educators everywhere… it is time to stop teaching students that America is bad, or that America ought to become like other countries in the world. Such statements are false, and accompanying pathways are dangerous—for all of us, including for those who think our nation is evil, and seek its diminishment or destruction. Aside from outright destroying us, our enemies abroad love nothing more than to see voices and efforts from within erode the very strength that can defend us from attack, thus aiding them in their nefarious designs.


“United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do. For we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds, and split asunder. Let [us] explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us."
– President John F. Kennedy

If we are to remain the strongest nation on Earth, we must put an end to the bitter antagonism and petty quibbling that has overtaken so much of our land in recent decades. We must unite in a collective embrace of the personal and organizational principles that made our nation great in the first place.

We call upon Americans everywhere to re-commit to the True Principles that successfully created, and has thus far sustained, the greatest nation in the history of the Planet. Let us individually and collectively forsake the pseudo-principles and petty practices that only deepen our current divisions. We won’t give up on America. We hope you won’t either.

However admirable a goal restoring American unity and greatness may be, our present reality paints a picture whose dark lines of division overshadow our present pastels of progress. Amazingly, secession is increasingly talked about in some corners of our nation. The problem with a secession paradigm—no matter how well intentioned—is that it only breeds more secession. Had the South won the Civil War, it would have only been a matter of time before the Southeastern States wished to separate from the Southwestern States (or something similar), and on it would go until all factions were drowned in a sea of anarchy.

Permanent answers to serious problems can never be found in separating ourselves (running away) from problems. The answer to America’s problems is not, nor will it ever be, secession. The only, true answer lies in collective commitments to face up to and solve whatever problems we do face through individual commitments to True Principles. Come what may in the future, we maintain an unfailing faith in the destiny of the United States of America, and believe that destiny involves unification now and indefinitely into the future. 

Like Abraham Lincoln before me, “I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided.”[2] Lincoln spoke these words three years before the outbreak of the Civil War. In many ways, our nation is already fighting a Cold Civil War. Whatever may yet occur before our own “Berlin Walls” are broken down may prove austere, if not dire, but let us not throw in the towel.

We do not know, nor can we predict what this country will have to pass through before it makes it to the other side of the terrible gulf that presently bisects, trisects, and poly-sects us, but we at Freedom Focused remain optimistic about the long-term future of America. Barring an unforeseen worldwide calamity, we believe America’s greatest days are not only ahead of her, but may very well be just around the next corner in the near future. Be it sooner or later, however, America will rise from the ashes of her recent moral, educational, military, and political decline; America will lead the world once more. America will once again be a strong, vibrant, nation of optimists where the dismal din and damage of critics, cynics, pessimists, and evil doers is kept to the shadows and back-alleys where it belongs.

In the spirit of this optimism, we call on all Americans to embrace a vision of authentic unity that can only be achieved through conscience-guided Self-Action Leadership. We do not have to agree on every particular to live together peaceably. Unity can occur amidst a sea of great diversity, but only if conscience, character, compassion, tolerance, and integrity collectively carry the day. Diversity can create the seedbed of our greatest progress, but only if True Principles are adhered to by all voices at the table. This book has been written in a good-faith effort to identify and articulate those principles that are not unique to any one religion, ideology, or even one political party, but are rooted in natural law itself. Let us reinvigorate the vision of one of America's most prominent leaders, who, just over one decade ago boldly proclaimed:

There's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. ... [Let us not] participate in a politics of cynicism, ... [but] in a politics of hope [3].

These words, spoken by Senator Barack Obama in 2004, stirred hope for unity in the hearts and minds of many throughout our land. His vision influenced millions to elect him President, not once, but twice. Unfortunately, the divisions Mr. Obama sought to bridge have only deepened during his own Presidency. Nevertheless, I believe in elements of his original vision. If we are willing to unite in a collective embrace of True Principles, we can once again be the kind of nation that rose up in unity to defeat the most powerful Empire on Earth to earn our liberty 224 years ago--that same nation that overcame a bloody Civil War and severed the chains of human bondage 150 years ago, that defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan 70 years ago, that put a man on the moon 45 years ago, and that in recent generations has been, in very deed, the greatest nation the world has ever seen. Let us rise up and choose once again to become a “United States of America.”

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, I hope and pray we may all hang together in our quest to seek out and honor True Principles in a quest for individual freedom and collective strength and unity. If we fail to do so, I fear many of us will hang separately; and the noose of natural law will prove ghastly in its effects on the personal destiny of each victim that chooses abdication over self-sovereignty.


The only way to achieve strength through freedom & unity is to seek for that unity through integrity to True Principles. The purpose of this book is to identify and articulate those Principles that are rooted not in partisan ideology or personal preference, but in natural law. Our aim, therefore, is not to promote our own brand of goodness and rightness, but to articulate what goodness and rightness actually ARE. In the words of Emerson, “He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness.”[4] Therefore, let the principles throughout this book be submitted to a candid world[5] with Emerson’s conviction that “nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of [true] principles.”[6]

We invite you to join us in this movement to stop being part of the problem, and start being part of solution to the many and varied issues that plague our families, communities, organizations, states, nations, and the world-at-large. Join us in a twenty-first century revival dedicated to once again making the United States of America “The last best hope of earth.”[7]

Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history. We … will be remembered in spite of ourselves. … The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility. … We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. … The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just—a way which if followed the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.[8]

SAL Mantra

Peace through Strength
Strength through Freedom
Freedom & Unity through Integrity to True Principles

Next Blog Post ~ Monday, December 8, 2014; Chapter 12: Things that Enslave

[1] Excerpts from President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961.
[2] From Abraham Lincoln’s House Divided Speech delivered in Springfield, IL on June 16, 1858.
[3] Excerpts from Senator Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, MA.
[4] Emerson, R.W. Self-Reliance. In Ziff, L., Ed. (1985). Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected Essays. New York, NY: Penguin.  Page 178.  Italics added. 
[5] Phrase from the Declaration of Independence.  
[6] Emerson, R.W. Self-Reliance. In Ziff, L., Ed. (1985). Ralph Waldo Emerson: Selected Essays. New York, NY: Penguin.  Page 203.
[7] From Lincoln’s Second Annual Message to Congress delivered December 1, 1862.
[8] Ibid. 

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