Wednesday, October 28, 2020

SAL versus Politics: The Case for Hope & Optimism Beyond the 2020 Election

The 2020 Presidential Election is upon us! By the time next week's blog post is published, The United States of America will presumably have decided on who her President and Vice President will be for the next FOUR (4) years, as well as which political party will control both houses of Congress for the next TWO (2) years.    

Freedom Focused is an Apolitical organization, and therefore does NOT endorse candidates or promote partisan platforms. Our aim and focus is the health, welfare, and existential growth of ALL human beings who live on this Planet, regardless who they are or how they vote. 

We do, however, comment from time-to-time on politics and other events (both current and historical) when a non-partisan connection to Self-Action Leadership or FREEDOM can be relevantly and specifically drawn. 

The purpose of this essay is two-fold.

First, to explain why politics matters to the quality of your life, but probably not as much as you think—and not nearly as much as your own Self-Action Leadership. And second, to explain why we believe there are reasons to be incredibly hopeful and optimistic about the future—despite the current challenges we face and regardless who wins the election next Tuesday.

For starters, it should be noted that democratic politics is an imperfect form of government that often becomes messy, personal, and personally nasty in the process.

As Winston Churchill once noted: 

"No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that it is the worst form of government on earth, except for all the others that have been tried from time-to-time."

In other words, democracy is not a theoretical ideal for governing human affairs. It is merely our best, practical option in an imperfect world full of flawed human beings.

Next, politics is important. 

          Politics matters.


Because, as the late political commentator, Charles Krauthammer, once noted: "If a nation gets its politics wrong, it can end up like Germany in 1933."

This is a good reminder of something many people do not even realize—that Adolf Hitler rose to power legally through the orderly channels of a legitimate democratic system. He did not seize power via a political or military coup. In the process, that evil fiend proved that diabolical political takeovers by extreme partisan factions remain a frightening possibility, despite being practically unlikely, in any democracy.

It should further be recognized and understood that political leaders possess great power to influence, decree, legislate, enforce, and regulate/deregulate the laws and affairs of the people. While it is true that their power over some (e.g. those with LESS money, influence, and fewer connections) is greater than it is over others (e.g. those with MORE money, influence, and connections), the collective power that politicians wield is immense, and should be recognized, respected, and continually reigned in by checks, balances, an independent judiciary, term limits, a free press, a Bill of Rights, and regularly recurring elections. Politics should also be an arena where a citizenry's best, brightest, and most circumspect members are willing to join the fray—and it often is just that, if not an all-out fracas—for the good of the PEOPLE.  

Lastly, and most vitally: as important as politics is, and as seriously as all citizens should view it by voting and other appropriate participation—politics is NOT nearly as important as the LIFE LEADERSHIP and PERSONAL MANAGEMENT of your own, individual life.

In other words, SELF-ACTION LEADERSHIP (SAL) trumps—or at least should trump—politics in terms of its impact and influence in your life.  

No matter who wins the election next Tuesday, the person who holds the most power and influence over your own life and circumstances is—and should always remain—YOU. This fact is good news as long as you are willing and committed to take that personal leadership seriously. 

There are citizens—on ALL sides of the political spectrum—who don't take their own personal management and life leadership as seriously as they could. Instead of working things out on their own, they are more interested in having other people solve their problems for them. For such persons, the outcome of an election may cause a great deal of anxiety and distress because of the illusion—erroneously held by many—that election outcomes have a much greater influence on their daily lives than they really do.

For those who are on top of their own SAL Game, an undesirable election outcome can and should be disappointing—like when your favorite sports team loses—but rarely does it drastically change the quality of your actual life, and it certainly should not be cause for undo mourning, depression, or pessimism.


Because the quality of your life has already been determined to a large extent by your knowledge and exercise of SAL, and you can improve your life a LOT quicker by focusing on your own Life Leadership and Personal Management than you ever could by hoping "the right" person gets elected to office. Besides, there is always hope for the next election! And as self-action leaders, we can choose to support causes and candidates we believe in moving forward.  

I have learned these realities from my own personal experiences. I am 41 years old. I have voted in FOUR (4) Presidential elections in my lifetime. I just missed getting to vote in the 1996 election because I was only 17. I then missed voting in the 2000 election because I was engaged in service work in another country and failed to apply for an absentee ballot, which is something I regret. Of the four elections I have participated in since 2004, I have voted for candidates who have both WON and LOST.

How much did voting for a losing candidate impact my own quality of life?

The answer is: very little

On the other hand, how much did my diligent and determined exercise of SAL have on my life throughout those same periods?

The answer is: very much!

Like everyone else who attends to their civic duty and VOTES, I have favored candidates on the ballot. And like everyone else, I hope the candidates I vote for win! I enjoy following and studying politics, not only because it is fascinating (and entertaining), but because it does indeed matter in the lives of the populace. 

However... my mind is at rest knowing that whether the candidates I vote for win or lose, it will NOT dramatically change the quality of my personal life, career, or family.


When your SAL-House is in order, there is a LOT to smile
about, no matter who the President is!
Because my SAL-house is in order.

In other words, my spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, social, and financial affairs are all in a positive place, thus guaranteeing my quality of life regardless who wins the upcoming Presidential Election.

This is most comforting to me, and despite my personal passion for politics, will prove dramatically comforting if the candidates I vote for lose. For I know that the kind of person who lives in the White House is far less important—to my life—than the kind of person who lives at My Own House!

It is no secret that I am an ambitious person. In fact, when I was younger, I harbored ambitions to someday be the President of the United States. Why did I choose to abandon my previously held political ambitions? 

The answer is simple: I am a philosophical and practical utilitarian, and came to the conclusion that I could ultimately have a far greater influence on other people—and a more positive and lasting impact on the world—by promoting SAL principles and practices than I could by serving in public office. I also came to discover that my natural desires and proclivities were better suited to a teaching role than a political office.

Like Winston Churchill and Hyrum W. Smith before me, I have always wanted to make a BIG DIFFERENCE in this world by virtue of my own, unique contributions. Click HERE to read how Churchill influenced Smith, who, in-turn, inspired ME with BIG AMBITIONS for my life.

What does the leadership and management
look like at YOUR OWN house?

While politics is important and elections obviously matter a great deal (for a variety of reasons), we all face the tendency and temptation to overestimate the importance of election outcomes—and politics in general—on our own, individual lives, careers, and worlds.

The truth is that how we choose to lead our own lives is infinitely more important than how a President of the United States—or any other elected official—chooses to lead his or her own life, constituency, party, or populace.  

I promise you the more time and effort you invest in setting your own life and house in order, the less you will have to worry about the way in which elected officials are keeping their own homes and offices. This is not to say it doesn't matter who serves, and how.

Of course it matters!

It merely means that YOU remain the most important leader in your own life and world. As long as you are taking wise charge over your own life and responsibilities, everything else going on outside of your direct control will have much less of an impact on you and those you hold dear. It will also clarify your personal priorities and vision and open up more opportunities to contribute to political and other broader issues outside your own home that you are passionate about. And along the way, it will provide you with a metaphysical bubble of protection over you and your loved ones.    

And that is just ONE of the many beauties, glories, and gifts of SAL!

Freedom Focused admires and LOVES the United States Declaration of Independence and Constitution. It is, after all, no coincidence that we are constructing our own organizational structure—and our core curriculum—around these non-partisan, history-altering documents. 

We therefore encourage everyone everywhere to learn about and study these august instruments of self-governance and then study the Self-Action Leadership Model (SAL Textbook Volume 2) to discover how you can apply similar principles of wise self-governance to your own life.

Optimism Amidst Calamity and Incivility

Perhaps you are thinking to yourself: "Jordan: how can you be so optimistic amidst so much political incivility and cultural calamity?" 

Good question!

First of all, I should note that I am not merely an optimist; I am an optimistic REALIST. As such, I am not naive to the enormous and seemingly unprecedented incivility and dishonesty currently pervading the political and social climate in the United States. Moreover, as an American, I think it is sad and disappointing that we currently find ourselves in this dishonorable and, quite frankly, embarrassing cultural quagmire.

History is our Prelude to the Present
And teenagers have been, and always will be...
Nevertheless, as a diligent student of history, I am also not naive to the fact that there have been MANY other times in the past when things were at least as bad as they are now, and in some cases, even worse! 

It may not seem that way because previous generations' pettiness, puerility, vitriol, and violence were not magnified by ubiquitous social media platforms and 24/7 news media coverage.

It is soooooooo important to remember this vital fact of history! 

Any percipient historian comes to learn over time the great truth that: "the more things change, the more things stay the same!"  

Take TEENAGERS, for example. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once opined—over 2,400 years ago:
"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

You see... even the great Socrates once felt to exclaim the exact same thing that parents and teachers in every succeeding generation have exasperatingly echoed; namely: "Teenagers these days!"   

We are still like teenagers in our use of Social Media
The reason I bring up the subject of children and teenagers is because I believe one of the causes of our present and persistent incivility is the fact that we are, as a collective nation, still kids—or, at best, teenagers—in terms of our collective use of and experience with Social Media. 

After all, social media has only been around in a significant way for about 15 years. Like your own 15-year old, we as a nation and world are still figuring out how to behave with our newfound freedom and power of communication made possible by social media platforms and other unprecedented technological advancements. For most of human history, one needed formal power, position, or a palpable platform to have a voice in society. Thanks to social media, virtually everyone has a voice in today's world, and it tends to give us all a false sense of our own stature, status, and capacity for influence.    

Discovering how to navigate the territory and peacefully coexist with each other in a Brave New technological World that has empowered individual citizens in ways that every other generation throughout history could have only dreamed of is not a quick, easy, or clean process. But I assure you we will eventually grow up in this regard. Things will get better, speaking collectively and not individually. The better angels of our nature will prevail! We will, in time, figure things out and the result will be a noticeable return to a collective civility the likes of which many citizens are unable to even imagine at present.

Even the rowdiest of teenagers usually grow up eventually, and most end up turning out to be fairly stable, productive, and trustworthy adults. I recognize that dealing with "teenage" behavior can really suck in the moment. I personally have never been a big fan of teenagers. Heck, I didn't even like them when I was a teenager myself! And teaching ninth and tenth graders in Houston, Texas for a couple of years only reinforced my previously-held prejudices—albeit with some noteworthy and sterling exceptions.

I'll never forget something my Principal taught us teachers and staff in a faculty meeting at a large, diverse, urban high school in Houston, Texas—where I taught 9th grade English a decade ago. This wise and experienced educator told us: "I know how annoying and frustrating these students can be. But it's important to remember that in not very many years from now, most of these kids will eventually grow up and become responsible adults." 

This VISION provided by our principal was reassuring—and underscored the important role we were playing in their lives at that particular moment in time. Those 9th graders are now in their mid-twenties, causing me to reflect back on my Principal's words. While I don't know exactly where my students are now in their lives, I'd bet money that my Principal was right, speaking collectively and not individually.  

Like those darn kids or teenagers that can be so frustrating in the moment, I predict we will eventually "Grow Up" collectively as a nation and world in our use of social media, and the result will be a new age of maturity and civility the likes of which seems impossible to many right now. There will, of course, always be outlying individual and group exceptions to the rule; but suffice it to say, much HOPE remains!  

To better understand the present, carefully study the past

Study the Past to Better Understand the Present

If you desire greater clarity about the PRESENT, I can't underscore or emphasize enough how important and valuable it is to really study HISTORY. 

I'm not talking about merely paying attention to those relatively shallow high school and/or college courses on the subject. I'm talking about really immersing yourself in the past by independently reading history books and biographies, watching documentaries and biopics, researching historical individuals and events online, spending time with senior citizens and asking them lots of questions, and traveling to visit monuments, relics, and other famous sites from the past whenever opportunities arise. 

Few things will provide you with more comfort and perspective about the way things really are right now than a detailed and growing understanding of the way things things really were in the past. Sadly, it is the relatively rare individual who undertakes a careful study of human history. And it is an even rarer person who can effectively synthesize its disparate parts to develop meaningful models and interpretations that become highly relevant to present issues.

Without an understanding of history, human beings must confront present problems bereft of any past patterns—as if such things had never happened before, and as if we are the first to experience something (good or bad).

While that notion might make one feel unique, or even special, it certainly isn't going to help you much in solving present problems. 

Understanding the past provides us with a storehouse of wisdom for solving problems in the present. Moreover, the greater one's historical comprehension, the more one recognizes one's own relative obscurity and smallness. Such comprehensions lend themselves well to self-awareness, humility, and right understanding about a whole host of academic subjects and life arenas—all of which is highly desirable if you want to be an authentic self-action leader.  

Second only to my understanding and command of language, I credit my knowledge of history as being my foremost and most valuable intellectual tool, academic skill, and practical daily consultant.

And I still have so much to learn!

Indeed, I have just barely scratched the surface of all there is to know about such a vast and ever-expanding subject. Fortunately, I have the rest of my life to continue my diligent inquiries into the past in an effort to broaden my perspective of the present and equip myself to successfully confront and embrace the future. 

For these reasons, I encourage YOU to begin TODAY to expand your own understanding of history. One of our many objectives at Freedom Focused is to increase the value that Americans (and all people) place on the study and understanding of history. In our view, history should be among the most important subjects a student (of any age) studies. It should come second only to academic basics (i.e. reading, writing, and arithmetic) and Self-Action Leadership in any legitimate core curriculum.    
Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles and odds of any given moment or time period, humanity has always found creative and inspired ways to "Right the Ship." This phenomenon has been particularly the case throughout the history of the United States.

America's Strength is Rooted in its Governing Principles
At Freedom Focused, we love our country and embrace an idea we call The Patriotism Principle, which is something that applies to citizens of all different nations, not just to Americans.

Click HERE to read what the PATRIOTISM PRINCIPLE is, and how it applies to citizens of all countries throughout the world.

At Freedom Focused, our admiration and respect for our Country is rooted in the principles and ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, the hallmarks of which have enabled and empowered us to survive for nearly 250 years—through a devastating Civil War, two World Wars, profound inequalities, a great depression and recession, two worldwide pandemics, and endless injustices and other adversities along the way. These ideals and principles, set forth in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, include: life, liberty, equality, self-government, and the pursuit of happiness.

According to the Honorable William Gladstone, a 4-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom:

"The American Constitution is the most wonderful work ever struck off 
at a given point by the brain and purpose of man."

While our individual, collective, and partisan blemishes abound, the United States remains a unique bastion of liberty, freedom, and democracy in the annals of history. There is a reason that over 100 other nations throughout the world have produced constitutions similar to the U.S. Constitution.


Because "warts and all" it works! There are, therefore, good reasons why we at Freedom Focused incorporate so much non-partisan structural and thematic "Americana" within our corporate composition, culture, and creed.

To learn more about the U.S. Constitution and why it has worked so well for over 230 years, click HERE to read an informative Bicentennial Article written by David Lauter and published in The Los Angeles Times in 1987.  

My optimism about the future of my Country is not rooted in any single individual. A nation is never the sum of a single person, group, or party's contributions—no matter how great that man, woman, or organization may be. That is another reason why I am not overly concerned about who wins next week's elections.

I am optimistic because my Country is not ultimately governed by human beings, but by TRUE PRINCIPLES, and in the long-run, True Principles adhered to will always carry the day and win the fight—no matter how uncivil, persistent, dreadful, or even bloody the fight may be.

Cheer Up America!  It's not as Bad as You Think.

Cheer up America!

There are Many Reasons to Hope

One of the things that makes me sad is to see really good people (stalwart citizens) who have turned pessimistic about the Nation and its future. For example, I was recently talking to a friend who was bemoaning the incivility that presently pervades the country's politics. 

My friend's tone was dolefully dour to the point that he seemed to genuinely question whether we can ever recover from our present funk. Sadder still, my friend is not alone in his pessimism. Indeed, some of the nation's best and brightest citizens are, in fact, currently among the most pessimistic about its future.

I think that is sad. 

          I also think it is unnecessary. 

I believe my friend's pessimism is not rooted in a reality that all hope is gone. Rather, I think it is more an issue of his inability to "see the forest for the trees." He is understandably blinded by the trees on fire right in front of him to the extent that he is unable to rise above the smoke and ashes to behold that a protective force of Principles, Practices, and Providence is, in fact, watching over the broader forest, and will never let the entire landscape go up in smoke.

He further fails to see the Growing Army of Goodness forming right behind the danger zones—an army that is already enrolled in "Basic Training" in preparation to extinguish the flames, clean up the mess, and replant fresh new trees.

Do YOU, like a horse,
 have blinders on?
There are many others, like my friend, who are currently so blinded by the fear and fatigue of the moment that they are unable to rise above the present period to see the tremendous hope that still legitimately exists for a future that remains unprecedented in its transcendent luminosity.

No matter how bad things seem right now, I assure you they will get better. A brighter day exists in the future—no matter who wins the Presidential Election next Tuesday.

Another reason I am so optimistic—and even enthusiastic and eager—about the future is because of all the GOOD PEOPLE in this world.

People like YOU!

And people like those with whom you are going to share this article.

In the words of Country Music Singer, Luke Bryan: I Believe Most People are Good!

I agree with Luke.

There is no doubt in my mind that there are more genuinely GOOD people living in the world right now—TODAY—than there have ever been in the history of Planet Earth. Moreover, we have more information, greater access to resources, technology, education, health care and medicine, and better mobility than ever before throughout all of human history. Combine all these wonders together, and I know that GOODNESS will prevail now and in the future for as long as the world stands.

Individual and collective trials and troubles will continue to come, no doubt. And sometimes those challenges will—like COVID-19—be profound and long-lasting. But I know we are up to any and every challenge that will come our way forever into the future. I know we will come out of this troubled year—and other challenges like it—better, stronger, and ultimately even more hopeful than we have ever been in the past. 

Don't believe all the negative HYPE, my friends.

     The FUTURE is BRIGHT!

And your individual future can be even brighter than our collective future as you lay hold upon SAL principles and practices and then personify them with all your mind, heart, and soul—to the incremental and everlasting expansion of your personal and professional FREEDOM, now and forevermore.  

Once again, I wish to emphasize that there are so many reasons to hope. 



                    Because YOU exist!

You, my friend, and millions upon millions of other GOOD PEOPLE like you throughout the United States and World are the reason for my hope. And I will go to work every single day for the rest of my life to work alongside GOOD people just like YOU to bring about the kinds of positive, productive, and prosperous changes that all good people seek. And together, we will transform this nation—and world—not primarily through political means, but through social, educational, and existential means.

Join me, and together we will create the kind of nation and world we all want for ourselves, our children, and our children's children.

Tune in NEXT Wednesday to learn more about my experiences as a Stay-at-Home Dad

And if you liked this blog post, please share it with your family, friends, colleagues, and students—and encourage them to sign up to receive future articles for FREE every Wednesday.

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And REMEMBER to be a RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN and VOTE early, on Tuesday, or whenever your next upcoming local, regional, or national election occurs.

Click HERE to learn more about our Vision and Mission at Freedom Focused

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