Hello Misfit Nation! Welcome to another edition of "Lessons for Hannah!" In November of 2016, we introduced a new format that we are putting alongside our regular episodes called “Lessons for Hannah.” Hannah is my daughter and one of the main inspirations for the Misfit Entrepreneur. I wanted to have a place where she could go and learn from her daddy and his Misfit friends throughout her life….even after I am gone. If you haven’t listened to the first episode of "Lessons for Hannah," I urge you to as it gives some more background and tells the amazing story of how Hannah came to be in our lives.
"Lessons for Hannah" are short, very useful, and sometimes comical lessons, that I have learned which I want to share with you and give to Hannah to help in your lives. Because I want Hannah to have these for her life, I’m going to speak as though I am talking directly to her. These episodes are a lot of fun and if you think there is a lesson that we should include in these episodes, please don’t hesitate to send it over to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to share it.
This week’s Lesson for Hannah
Hannah, As we are just coming off the 4th of July holiday in the U.S., I thought it would be a good time to talk to you about Liberty. Liberty is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days and many people that use it, don’t really understand its true meaning. Liberty is a very deep and important word and impacts every aspect of our lives.
The dictionary defines Liberty in multiple ways including:
When you boil it down, Liberty means to be free to choose how you want to live in your life. But, it is also important to understand that for most of human history, we did not have Liberty. And we did not because there was always someone, a King, Lord, or a form of government that instituted control over all aspects of people’s lives. Now, I am not going to down that rabbit hole of a discussion on the history of tyranny in this episode. I’ll save that for a long conversation when you are older. But, it is important to understand and ask the question that “If for most of human history, people did not have liberty, what changed so that they could have liberty?” Well, the truthful answer is that most people around the world still do not have true liberty – even in the U.S., but we have much more than most.
When the United States was created by the founders, they understood that the world was missing true liberty and while they were certainly not perfect as no man will ever be, they set out on a great mission to create a place of true Liberty for the world. In the Declaration of Independence, they stated something that we take for granted, but was absolutely shocking and foreign at the time. The said, “ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. And That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The fact that they not only stated that rights came from the creator and not from a King, Lord, or Government was enough to flip the world on its head, but even more importantly, they stated that “to secure those rights governments are instituted among men, and this is key, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
This was even crazier. Not only were rights from a creator, but it was the people, the governed, that were in control and gave consent to their leaders.
We take this for granted today. In fact, many people have never even been taught or read the few things I just stated, because it is considered normal and the denial of Liberty that was around for the majority of human existence is thought of as crazy. The founders went further when they drafted the Constitution of the United States because now they were not only saying it, but they were laying the framework for how to enshrine Liberty for the people and keep the Government essentially in check, so that it did not infringe on individual Liberty. And of course, they were smart enough and humble enough to know they were flawed, not perfect, and some things of their day could not yet be rectified in the Constitution – but they put in a process to do so where we the people could amend the Constitution. In fact, the beginning of the document states, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…” More perfect, NOT perfect. They knew that it would be a work in progress.
As a side note, the form of Government they chose was a Representative Republic, not a Democracy. I know a lot of people like to call the U.S. a Democracy, but it is not. And for good reason, as every Democracy in history has failed as it devolved into mob rule. With a Democracy, all that is needed is a tiny majority, even by the slimmest of margins and then that majority would be in control and have the ability to suppress or take away the Liberty of all others – basically ruling them. How would you feel if 51% of people didn’t agree with you, so they took away all of your rights and freedoms? That is why Democracies fail as they turn into mob rule and destroy themselves. Thankfully, the United States is not one.
And one other note, the Constitution as it was written by the founders is not that of today. We have had some wonderful amendments added to the Constitution such as the abolishment of slavery, bill of rights (the first 10 amendments), and rights to vote for all, etc. But, we have also had some, in my opinion, destructive amendments such as the 17th amendment which removed one of the most important aspects of the original Constitution. In the original Constitution, Senators were to be elected by their own state legislatures. This was important because it meant that the only way they would remain a Senator is if they did what was in the best interest of their state. This also kept the states and people with the power and the Federal Government small. The 17th amendment removed that and allowed Senators to be elected by popular vote and thus ushered in a form of Democracy at the state level into our Republic that was not intended. All the Senators had to do was promise the public a bunch of stuff and they would get elected – they didn’t’ have to look out for their state anymore.
So, why am I telling you all of this? Well, up to this point, I wanted to explain how important Liberty is to everyone and share how it was given its due place in the course of human history. We have certainly seen the benefits of it in the United States and what liberty in entrepreneurship and free enterprise has done for the world. But, remember, the default state of human history is not Liberty, it is tyranny and an insatiable appetite for control and power, so our Liberty is something we must cherish and understand very well, so that we don’t willingly give it up or lose it.
Everyone must work hard to thoroughly understand Liberty and work to enshrine it for future generations. It is what creates prosperity or the opportunity for it – the ability to pursue happiness. Liberty does not and should not guarantee anything to anyone. It simply gives all us to opportunity to create the life that we want. This is the wisdom and advice the founders gave us. In fact, Benjamin Franklin was stopped on the street right after the Constitution was signed, and asked, “What type of government do we have?” He said, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
The lesson I want you to learn is to understand your liberty and understand the history that led to it, so as not to repeat the fails of human history and to use your Liberty to pursue your happiness and create the life you want. We have Liberty, freedom that many people still in this world could only dream of, all around us in all aspects of life, business, and in our thinking – don’t take it for granted and use it for good. I know you will.
I love you, Daddy.
Best Quote: "Remember, the default state of human history is not Liberty, it is tyranny and an insatiable appetite for control and power, so our Liberty is something we must cherish and understand very well, so that we don’t willingly give it up or lose it."
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