Perspectives: Why our freedom and personal character are inseparable

Image by shutter_m/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

OPINION — Milestones in life can be tricky. Occasionally we zoom right past one without even realizing it until sometime later.

The best ones are those we recognize and appreciate in the moment they’re happening. This past weekend was one of those milestones for me as I found myself in the company of many of the most positive and influential voices for freedom in our day.

I had the privilege of attending the Foundation for Economic Education’s annual conference in Atlanta. FEECon 2018 was a gathering of lovers of liberty from all around the globe. FEE is an educational foundation dedicated to inspiring future leaders in individual liberty, entrepreneurship, limited government and high moral character.

I’m a regular subscriber to their articles and resources and recommend them to anyone who is what Matt Kibbe of Free the People refers to as “liberty-curious.”

Over the course of their three-day conference, I rubbed shoulders with and learned alongside several hundred of the happiest, most engaged people on the planet. This included college and high school students from around the world, scholars, entrepreneurs, artists and influencers.

During FEECon, we heard from people who had created solutions and circumstances in which lives were objectively changed for the better.

This included Scott Harrison, a one-time New York City socialite who now heads up a project bringing wells for clean drinking water to impoverished people around the world. We heard from Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian woman in space.

We also had the chance to hear from a number of young people from Venezuela, including a young violinist named Wuilly Arteaga who was beaten for his public opposition to his nation’s despotic government. If you want to get a sense of how precious authentic freedom is, it’s worth listening to those who have actually lived under total bureaucratic domination.

Along the way, there were other speakers, panel discussions and presentations providing illumination on how to advance the ideas of freedom for all.

This gathering was more than a simple pep rally for people who dig freedom. It was a chance to share what is actually working to advance and secure greater personal and economic liberty for all, with individuals and organizations that are making a measurable difference.

Unlike doctrinaire ideologies based upon rigidly enforced uniformity and central planning, liberty and free markets thrive where people are free to seek out and create their own solutions. This philosophical division of labor results in solutions that are more than one-size-fits-all.

Far from being a rally for airing anti-government complaints, this conference was a celebration of the qualities and principles that qualify us for the blessings of liberty. It was a chance to hear from those who are effectively improving the world around them.

Builders, as a general rule, are far more reliable sources of illumination and happiness than those who only seek to tear down.

Speaking of builders, the undeniable milestone of my weekend was the opportunity to visit with one of my personal heroes Lawrence Reed, who is the president of FEE.

St. George News columnist Bryan Hyde interviews Lawrence Reed, Atlanta, Ga., date not specified | Photo by and courtesy of Connor Boyack, St. George News

I asked Reed about the essential connection between freedom and personal character. He reminded me of how ancient Rome rose to greatness during its Republic years as a result of the personal character its people were willing to practice.

This doesn’t mean that they were perfect, but when they focused on self-responsibility and self-reliance, they thrived. By the same token, when they let their guard and their character down and started voting themselves benefits, they soon found themselves bought and paid for by a welfare state.

While this may seem to be of interest only to academics and historians, the truth is that our society has a lot more in common with ancient Rome in this regard than we’d like to admit. The cautionary conclusion which Reed is encouraging us to consider is that, historically, no civilization has lost its character and managed to keep its liberties.

It’s not a matter of electing the right politicians or enacting the right policies. It’s about what kind of people we are, individually.

I asked Reed what he would specifically recommend people work on to develop the kind of character that is congruent with freedom. Without hesitation, Reed spoke of the need for honesty and commitment to the truth, even when it is inconvenient.

He spoke of the need for intellectual humility that recognizes that no matter how much we know, there is always more to learn. He spoke of patience, courage, responsibility, optimism and the need for heroes to inspire greatness.

For someone to be a leader of unshakable character in our time is nothing short of heroic. But that’s exactly what the world needs right now.

I’m happy to report that such heroes do still exist.

It was an honor to associate with some of them this past weekend.

Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events and liberty viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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13 Comments

  • bikeandfish June 11, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Yep, nothing like Hyde drooling over mouth pieces for SPN and ALEC to expose his critical thinking skills and true values.

    • Utahguns June 11, 2018 at 6:48 pm

      Yep, nothing like the Soros puppet bike&fish drooling over mouth pieces for the liberal left and the morally challenged minions to expose his
      self proclaimed critical thinking skills and true values.

      • bikeandfish June 11, 2018 at 7:00 pm

        When have I ever supported Soros? Do tell.

        • Utahguns June 11, 2018 at 7:49 pm

          You’re getting selective now as to the liberal company you keep?
          “Birds of a feather flock together.”

          • bikeandfish June 11, 2018 at 9:02 pm

            That is a ridiculous cop out and assumption about my voting. Once again, when have I ever supported Soros?

  • NotSoFast June 11, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    Good points to remember Bryan. (Am I allowed to say good shared points?) It might raise a flag with todays thought police.
    I’ll take freedom vs. PLC any day.

  • No Filter June 11, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    What a bunch of BS, I couldn’t even bring myself to finish it. Free ride this week Bryan, I won’t call you out on your crap this week.

    • Utahguns June 11, 2018 at 7:55 pm

      Let us know when your travels take you to cities (other than the dispensary in Mesquite) so you can expound on your venomous ideological vitriol.
      Otherwise, shut up.

      • No Filter June 11, 2018 at 11:01 pm

        kiss my ideological …
        Ed. ellipsis

  • commonsense June 11, 2018 at 10:51 pm

    Well done Bryan, the left will never support character or honesty as virtues. It’s really all about power and the engine which drives the liberal movement is poverty and misery. Attract the down trodden and promise them benefits for their vote.

    Did you ever hear Obama plead with black people to have higher character, work ethic or self reliance’? No he encouraged them to be victims of the police, white folks, the government. Blame “the man”.

    • comments June 12, 2018 at 10:39 am

      There he goes again. The absolute king of black and white thinking BS… “the left”. I wasn’t ever a fan of Obongo, but after 8 years of Baby Bush II or “the right” they had nearly completely collapsed the economy, we had been roped into 2 never-ending unwinnable wars–I could go on and on about the fantastic achievements of “the right” in the 2000s. Tell us again all these things that are so wonderful about “the right”. Do you agree that the failed policies of Baby Bush were a good representation of the values of “the right”. History seems to always repeat itself because idiots (that’s you) have short memories. Obama was not great, but the country would not have survived years more of “the right’s” policies. I just don’t understand why you and the other r-wing loons are so simple. It boggles the mind. You’re as much a tool as hard-leftist lunatic liberals, you’re just too stupid to realize it–the ol’ king of black and white thinking.

      😉

  • commonsense June 12, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Not a fan of Bush 2 but he took it in the arse with 9/11 right out of the chute. Didn’t vote for McCain or Bob Dole. I’m more of a pragmatist than a conservative and definitely not a Republican. I just don’t like socialism because it doesn’t work long term and I don’t like identity politics that the left uses to attract splinter groups just for power.

    Trump aside , I think this country is doing great economically and I like border security, police support and international diplomacy right now. There you have it.

    • comments June 12, 2018 at 10:01 pm

      all good, buddy. we probably on the same page a lot of the time 😉 . If you took the time to look into it you’d see that many of the greatest things in this country are based on a socialist model–everything from social security, medicare to public city parks. Socialism comes in many many forms. Mesaman depends on socialism for his survival. He’d have starved to death years ago without it 😉

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