The following describes one side of the modern battle for our future:
“You believe you can change the world for good, one person at a time. You prioritize your children and your neighbors above your own consumption. Fulfillment for you comes through love and service, not accumulation of material goods.”
And the next one describes how the other side of the battle attacks the good:
“I’d thought these ideas placed people like you in an emotionally vulnerable position. You strive for an ideal, and since people are inherently imperfect, they will ultimately let you down…
“I obscured the idea of intrinsic self worth by encouraging comparisons with other people — people who were unnaturally perfect because I made them up. I appealed to peoples’ egos as well as their insecurities by promoting the idea that it was not enough to be unique or to do good.
“My intent was to convince them that the only meaningful accomplishment was to be better than someone else. That got them more concerned with promoting a perception of goodness than with actually doing good.”
These profound words, from The Curtain by Patrick Ord (which is a great and fun read), provide a nutshell summary of what is wrong with our modern world and why freedom is in decline.
Let’s be clear. It is essential to teach our children than being your unique self and doing good really is enough. In fact, it is what life is all about. Doing good. Serving others. Improving the world.
Nobody needs to be better than others, we all just need to be the best we can personally be. We don’t need to be perfect, but we do need to lose our lives in doing good things.
We must never be distracted into promoting a perception of goodness. We should put all our energy into actually doing good. Not forcing good through government, but just getting to work helping the world become a better place.
These principles are simple and true.
But the future of freedom depends on most of us really believing and living them.
Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.
Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.