Orrin Woodward LIFE Leadership Team

Winner of the 2011 Independent Association of Business Top Leader Award; Orrin Woodward shares his leadership secrets.

Archive for the ‘Freedom/Liberty’ Category

Without freedom, there is no leadership.

The Petition of Rights

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 22, 2012

The Petition of Rights is the second key document in the history of English-speaking people’s freedoms, following the Magna Carta. The Petition didn’t state any new principles; rather, it was recognition of rights against the tyrannical abuse by the King Charles I. King Charles, because he needed funds for war, repeatedly violated private property by seizing assets and money from his subjects. For example, in 1627, Charles initiated “forced loans” against his people because parliament refused to approve any further taxation.

King Charles I threatened his subjects with imprisonment without trial or habeas corpus, if they refused his demand for loans. Seventy gentlemen were jailed without charges against them merely for refusing to loan the king money. King Charles I, in other words, believed he was above the law of the land, making freedom and law only as good as the whims of the sovereign, certainly not solid ground for enduring freedoms. The Petition of Rights listed five key principles that Charles I violated and demanded redress:

1. Parliamentary approval of all taxes
2. No imprisonment without due cause
3. No rejection of habeas corpus without evidence (legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention)
4. No forced quartering of troops in people’s homes
5. No arbitrary imposition of martial law in the land

The courage mustered by the English Parliament to stand their ground is inspiring to freedom fighters around the world. Had parliament surrendered to the King’s power play, the Magna Carta would most likely be buried under the authoritarian precedences.  Instead, however, parliament revived the Magna Carta and courageously said “no” to King Charles I, refusing to surrender the principles of freedom for pragmatic “peace without justice.” The Magna Carta and the Petition of Rights have the same goal in minds – justice under rule of law. By checking the use of arbitrary force against the people and insisting the kings, nobles, and subjects all live under the rule of law, justice was saved.

The English-speaking world would be practically unrecognizable today had the legal mind of Edward Coke not placed his pen to paper and documented the English rights against any and all usurpers. Communities must learn and love their freedoms as much as the English Parliament did in the 17th century. Thus the reason for LIFE and the Mental Fitness Challenge. Below is an excellent summary from Dr. Bill Long.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Petition of Right I (1628)

Bill Long 1/10/05

Understanding the “Process” of the Petition

 A piece of paper is never so alive as when its principles are also in the hearts of the people.

If you were to do an Internet search for “Petition of Right,” you would come up with an 11 paragraph document that stated the “objectives” of a 1628 legal reform movement. This movement not only led to the English Civil war in the 1640s but also expressed many ideas of the American Revolution. The Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution contains some of the principles first articulated in the Petition of Right. But the petition didn’t just emerge whole-cloth. It was shaped in difficult circumstances, where liberties had been dramatically curtailed. The purpose of this and the next three pages is to discuss the purposes of the petition, the manner in which it took shape and some of its provisions. This essay will consider the background to the petition.

Incensed at the Five Knights Case

Although the detainees were remanded to prison after the case concluded in November 1627, the issue of their imprisonment without charge did not die. As a sign that even the King’s Bench was not fully satisfied with its decision, the judgment never was entered on the record. Then, in January 1628 the prisoners were freed in anticipation of Charles I calling another Parliament (it would be his third since his accession to the throne in March 1625). He needed more money, and it would have been impossible to get Parliament to agree on more taxes if the loan “refuseniks” were still behind bars. Thus, he had to show an example of “magnanimity” by releasing them. However, elections did not go in the Crown’s favor. All “Refusers” who ran were returned to Parliament. The die was cast, even if the Crown didn’t realize it.

Thus when Parliament met in March 1628, the King wanted to take up the issue of subsidies immediately, but the House of Commons had other ideas. Still stung by the arbitrary imprisonment of loan refusers and by more recent decisions of Charles to quarter troops in private dwellings in order to save money and to enforce martial law throughout the Kingdom, the Commons decided upon a “personal rights” agenda. They agreed in principle to taxations for foreign wars, but were more concerned with addressing (and redressing) the issue of remedies for a freeman falsely imprisoned.

The Petition Takes Shape–Draft I

Catherine Bowen Drinker, in her prize-winning biography of Coke (The Lion and the Throne) states it well: the issue before the Commons was whether to go by way of bill, petition or remonstrance. The last was quickly dismissed because the Commons wanted to express more than their dissatisfaction with existing conditions. The first was also discarded because a bill (a statute) suggested that the Commons would be declaring new rights or rights insufficiently clarified in the traditions of the people. But Coke’s approach, along with others, was to see what they were doing as expressing rights long recognized rather than devising something new. Thus, a petition was the effective vehicle. But another distinction had to be made, between a petition for grace and a petition of right. The former was a request from a freeman asking the King’s mercy or largesse whereas the latter was a sort of demand (even though called a petition) for rights to be recognized. They would seek the latter.

By the end of March 1628 four basic concepts for the Petition of Right were articulated by the Commons. These were: (1) no imprisonment of freemen without cause shown. The King’s command alone was insufficient to hold a man; (2) habeas corpus was not to be denied; (3) [overlapping with the preceding] the prisoner would either be bailed or released after a habeas hearing; (4) there would be no “tax, taillage, loan, benevolence” commanded or levied without the approval of Parliament.

Defending and Revising the Petition

The thing that really stuck in the craw of the Commons was that freemen had been imprisoned without cause by royal order. But in order for the Petition to have teeth, it had to be approved by the House of Lords and assented to by the sovereign with the traditional language, supposedly going back to Edward I: “Let right be done even as it is desired.” But the House of Lords responded to the four propositions of the Commons in April with a series of paragraphs beginning with “His Majesty would be graciously pleased to declare.” In other words, the Lords wanted to transmute the petition of right into one of grace.

At the heart of the disagreement in April between Commons and Lords was whether the “intrinsical prerogative” of the King, assumed in the wording of the Lords’ answer, could trump the common law of the land. Coke declared that the language of “intrinsical prerogative” was not much found in the laws of the land. If the Commons had to agree to the wording of the Lords, it would be tantamount to agreeing that their rights were a matter of grace. In Coke’s words, “Reason of state [the philosophy of the Lords] lames Magna Carta.”

The negotiating continued throughout the Spring. Finally, the debate within the Houses of Parliament centered on one phrase, a phrase suggested by the Lords, to which the Commons could not assent. It was a request to preserve liberties but “to leave entire the sovereign power” of the monarchy. By the end of May, the Commons had convinced the Lords to drop the phrase, arguing that traditional royal prerogatives would not to be threatened by the peoples’ declaration of their desire to be safe in their persons.

 Conclusion

Charles finally acceded to the Petition in June 1628. His agreement was secured for two reasons. First, he needed the subsidies which the Commons were holding up because of the Petition. Second, he managed to secure agreement from his hand-picked judges that the Petition would not be interpreted in a sense contrary to his desire. But the tide really had turned now against Charles. His seemingly bold actions early in his reign, while he was still a man in his mid-20s, ended up recoiling upon his head. Trust had been irrevocably broken through the Five Knights Case and his attempt to limit the effect of the Petition of Right ultimately was of no avail.

Posted in Freedom/Liberty, Mental Fitness Challenge (MFC), The LIFE Business | 13 Comments »

Magna Carta: The Great Charter

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 21, 2012

Here is an excellent short history of the Magna Carta, one of the first building blocks of English speaking freedoms, from the Constitutional Rights Foundation.  In fact, several of the points from the Magna Carta were carried forward into the United States Constitution, as well as each of the commonwealth nations of the former English Empire. The key to the document was the agreement for the nobles to check the king’s actions, ensuring the protection of the subjects against tyranny. Although the original Magan Carta agreement didn’t last long, many of the principles themselves have withstood the test of time.

The goal of the LIFE community and the Mental Fitness Challenge is to reteach the principles of freedom and following, along with the other six F’s into communities of learners. The only way to ensure freedom is to ensure knowledge, since a person is only as free as what he or she knows. Enjoy the article.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Meeting at Runnymede

The Story of King John and Magna Carta

Myth and history are intertwined in the England of 800 years ago. We all remember the outlaw, Robin Hood. From his hideout in Sherwood Forest, he and his band of Merry Men preyed on the rich and gave to the poor. Their archenemy was the Sheriff of Nottingham, who took his orders from the sinister Prince John. While Robin Hood never existed, John certainly did. He was the central character in a real life drama that led to a milestone in human liberty: Magna Carta. Prince John’s older brother, Richard, became king of England when their father, Henry II, died in 1189. King Richard I (also called Richard the Lionhearted) spent almost the entire 10 years of his reign away from England. He fought in tournaments, led crusades and waged several wars on the continent of Europe.

Since Richard needed revenue to pay for his adventures, he taxed his subjects heavily. At one point Richard was captured by his enemies and held for ransom (a common practice in feudal Europe). Richard’s tax collectors in England had to raise an enormous sum of money to free him. Despite Richard’s demands, the people back home in England loved him as a conquering hero.

When Richard died in 1199, John became King. Unlike his brother, John tended to stay at home and run his kingdom on a day to day basis. John, however, continued his brother’s harsh tax policy. Because John lacked Richard’s heroic image and charisma, his subjects began to hate him for his constant demands for more tax money.

King John vs. the Church

King John made more enemies when he refused to accept the appointment of Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury, the most important position in the English Catholic Church. By so doing, John challenged the authority of Pope Innocent III in Rome, who punished John by excommunication. John retaliated by taxing the Church in England, confiscating its lands and forcing many priests to leave their parishes.

While King John carried on his dispute with the Pope, powerful English landowners called barons conspired against him. Fuming over John’s heavy taxes and other abuses of power, the barons plotted rebellion. To head them off, King John made an unexpected move.

In 1212, King John agreed to have Stephen Langton become Archbishop of Canterbury. John also promised to compensate the Church for its money and lands. John even went so far as to make England a fief of the Pope. King John still ruled England, but, as John’s liege lord, the Pope gained tremendous prestige throughout Europe. Pope Innocent was delighted and in 1213 ended John’s excommunication. With John now under the protection of the Church, the resentful barons retreated—at least for a while.

King John vs. the Barons

Convinced that his throne was again safe, King John returned to one of his favorite projects. For years he had dreamed to retake possession of lands in France that had once belonged to his ancestors. Once before, John had led a military expedition to France. Although he won a number of battles, John failed to decisively defeat the French king. Now, in 1213, John planned another campaign.

An invasion of France required many soldiers and more money. Under feudal law, a liege lord had the right to call upon his vassals to provide knights or money during times of war. From the English barons, all vassals of King John, he demanded men-at-arms or gold to support his new French war. Many of the barons refused, having little interest in John’s quarrel with the French king. Enraged, King John set out to punish them by attacking their castles.

Early in 1214, he abandoned his domestic quarrels and left with a force of loyal barons and mercenaries (paid soldiers) for France. History repeated itself. John succeeded in winning some battles, but failed to gain control of the disputed lands.

The Road to Runnymede

Soon after returning to English soil in October 1214, King John resumed his demand for money from the rebellious barons. His demands fell on deaf ears. Sensing John’s weakness after his failure in France, the barons began to make their own demands. In January 1215, a group of them appeared before King John asking for a written charter from him confirming ancient liberties granted by earlier kings of England. Evidence suggests that the newly appointed Archbishop Stephen Langton may have encouraged these demands.

John decided to stall for time; he would give the barons an answer later in the spring. In the meantime, John sent letters to enlist the support of Pope Innocent III, and also began to assemble a mercenary army.

In April, the barons presented John with more specific demands. John flatly rejected them. He remarked: “Why do not the barons, with these unjust exactions, ask my kingdom?”

In response, the barons withdrew their allegiance to King John, and started to form their own rebel army. At the head of the rebel forces was Robert FitzWalter, who called himself “Marshal of the army of God and Holy Church.” In an effort to cool things off, John proposed that the Pope settle their differences. With the Pope openly siding with King John, the barons refused. John ordered his sheriffs to crush the rebel barons and they retaliated by occupying London.

A stalemate ensued. The 40 or so rebel barons and their forces held London as well as their own fortified castles throughout England. King John commanded a slightly smaller force of loyalist barons and mercenaries. Unaligned were about 100 barons plus a group of church leaders headed by the ever-present Archbishop Stephen Langton. Langton (who was sympathetic to the rebels if not one himself) began to work for a negotiated settlement to prevent all-out civil war and arranged a meeting to be held at Runnymede, a meadow on the Thames west of London.

Meeting at Runnymede

King John and his supporters, the rebel barons, the neutrals, church leaders and Archbishop Langton all met at Runnymede on June 15, 1215. Significantly, while most of King John’s fighting men were scattered throughout his kingdom, the rebels appeared at full military strength.

Little is known about the details of this historic meeting. We do know that King John placed his seal of approval on a document called the “Articles of the Barons.” Over the next few days these articles were rewritten, expanded, and put into the legal language of a royal charter.

At some point, probably on June 19, King John put his seal on the final draft of what we call today “Magna Carta” or “The Great Charter.” In exchange, the rebellious barons renewed their oath of allegiance to King John, thus ending the immediate threat of civil war.

In its original form Magna Carta consisted of 63 articles or chapters. Many concerned matters of feudal law that were important to the rebel barons, but are of little relevance to us today. Other parts of Magna Carta corrected King John’s abuses of power against the barons, Church officials, merchants and other “free men” who together made up about 25% of England’s population. Magna Carta virtually ignored the remaining 75% of the population.

For people today the most significant part of Magna Carta is Chapter 39:
No free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or disseised [property taken] or outlawed or exiled or in any way victimized, neither will we attack him or send anyone to attack him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.
Some have interpreted this provision to mean that Magna Carta guaranteed to free men the right to a trial by jury. However, the idea of a jury trial as we would recognize it today had not yet developed by 1215.

The purpose of this chapter was to prevent King John from personally ordering the arrest and punishment of a free man without lawful judgment. According to Magna Carta, “lawful judgment” could only be made by judges ruled by “the law of the land,” or by one’s peers in a trial by combat.

Magna Carta of 1215 was not really intended to be a list of rights for Englishmen or even the barons themselves. It was more like a contract in which John bound himself to abide by its provisions. The barons only wanted King John to satisfy their complaints against his abusive rule, not overthrow the monarchy. The real significance of this document lies in the basic idea that a ruler, just like everyone else, is subject to the rule of law. When King John agreed to Magna Carta, he admitted that the law was above the king’s will, a revolutionary idea in 1215.

Aftermath

King John surrendered significant power when he agreed to Magna Carta. It is doubtful that he really ever intended to live up to all his promises. While John did satisfy some of the barons’ personal grievances, he secretly wrote the Pope asking him to cancel Magna Carta on the grounds that he signed it against his will. At the same time he continued to build up his mercenary army. Not trusting John’s intentions, the rebel barons held on to London and maintained their own army.

Pope Innocent III replied favorably to King John’s appeal. He condemned Magna Carta and declared it null and void. By September 1215, King John and his army were roving the countryside attacking the castles of individual barons, but he avoided the rebel stronghold of London. The barons charged that King John had defaulted on his agreement with them and they were justified in removing him from the throne. They offered the throne to the son of the French king, if he would aid their rebellion.
A long and bloody civil war loomed across England, when suddenly, King John died. A round of heavy eating and drinking apparently led to a case of dysentery causing his death on October 18, 1216. Ten days later John’s nine-year-old son, Henry, was crowned as the new king of England. With John out of the way, the conflict gradually ceased. Less than a month after Henry was crowned, his supporters confirmed Magna Carta in his name. This time it received the approval of the Pope.

Magna Carta, carrying with it the idea of “the rule of law,” was reconfirmed a number of times over the next 80 years, becoming a foundation of English law. Eventually, Magna Carta would become the source of important legal concepts found in our American Constitution and Bill of Rights. Among these are the principle of no taxation without representation and the right to a fair trial under law. These foundations of our own constitutional system had their beginnings in a meadow beside a river almost 800 years ago.

Posted in Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development, The LIFE Business | 20 Comments »

The Role of Intellectuals in Societal Change

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 20, 2012

The late Murray Rothbard was a polymathic genius. I have read few authors who have studied and understood history, economics, philosophy, sociology, liberty, and power, in as entertaining and informative a manner. I find that, even when I disagree with Rothbard, he still makes me think. In truth, isn’t this the goal of all reading? I don’t read to believe everything the author writes; rather, I read to sharpen myself on the iron thinking of other great minds. Unfortunately, our school systems, newspapers, magazines, television sets, and radio stations are all geared to tell you what to think (propaganda) instead of teaching you how to think (education).

After reading Rothbard’s analysis of the Revolutionary War from his book Conceived in Liberty and the role of intellectuals in the conflict, it became crystal clear to me who the court intellectuals are today.  Invest the time to read Rothbard’s analysis of 18th century America for yourself. See if you can identify some of the court intellectuals today who share the ruling statist ideology in our society. Likewise, think of some of the anti-statist authors and organizations who faithfully teach our English heritage from the Magna Carta, Petition of Rights, and Bill of Rights. These great documents protected the citizens against un-checked statist power, helping create a society ruled by law to protect life, liberty, and property.

Did anyone ever study these three documents in high school? How about college? Amazingly, three off the most precious documents in the history of the English-speaking people that, along with the King James Bible, flowered freedom to a level previously unknown throughout the world is largely forgotten. Even though these documents produced a level of liberty that was the envy of every other European nation. Indeed, the West would not even be conceivable without these documents. However, if this is true, then why aren’t these great truths shared in every school in every English speaking country? Moreover, is there anything that English speaking citizens from around the world can do about this catastrophic, at least from a liberty perspective, series of egregious events?

Call me a dreamer, but if only there were communities who inspired people to begin a self-directed education. If only people began reading, learning, and sharing from the original sources with one another to learn the great truths of freedom by working around society’s purveyors of propaganda. 🙂 Imagine the impact of millions of people taking the Mental Fitness Challenge and launching a self-directed education into their personal lives while associating with others taking the same journey? Yes folks, the road ahead will be challenging; however, great leadership is only revealed when the obstacles encountered cannot be resolved with anything less. Like my friend Chris Brady says: Today’s the day!

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

The essence of the state throughout history is a minority of the population, constituting a power elite or a “ruling class,” governing and living off the majority, or the “ruled.” Since a majority cannot live parasitically off a minority without the economy and the social system breaking down very quickly, and since the majority can never act permanently by itself but must always be led by an oligarchy, every state will subsist by plundering the majority in behalf of a ruling minority. A further reason for the inevitability of minority rule is the pervasive fact of the division of labor: the majority of the public must spend most of its time going about the business of making a living. Hence the actual rule of the state must be left to full-time professionals who are necessarily a minority of the society.

Throughout history, then, the state has consisted of a minority plundering and tyrannizing over a majority. This brings us to the great question, the great mystery, of political philosophy: the mystery of civil obedience. From Etienne de La Boetie to David Hume to Ludwig von Mises, political philosophers have shown that no state—no minority—can continue long in power unless supported, even if passively, by the majority. Why then does the majority continue to accept or support the state when it is clearly acquiescing in its own subjection? Why does the majority continue to obey the minority?

Here we arrive at the age-old role of the intellectuals, the opinion-molding groups in society. The ruling class—be it warlords, nobles, bureaucrats, feudal landlords, monopoly merchants, or a coalition of several of these groups—must employ intellectuals to convince the majority of the public that its rule is beneficent, inevitable, necessary, and even divine. The leading role of the intellectual throughout history is that of the court intellectual, who, in return for a share of, a junior partnership in, the power and pelf offered by the rest of the ruling class, spins the apologias for state rule with which to convince a misguided public. This is the age-old alliance of church and state, of throne and altar, with the church in modern times being largely replaced by secular intellectuals and “scientific” technocrats.

When state rulers act, then, to use and aggrandize state power, their primary motivation is economic: to increase their plunder at the expense of the subject and the taxpayer. The ideology that they profess and that is formulated and spread through society by the court intellectuals is an elaborate rationalization for their economic interests. The ideology is the camouflage for their looting, the fictitious clothes spun by the intellectuals to hide the naked plundering of the emperor. The economic motive behind the ideological garb of the state is the heart of the issue.

But what of the actions of the rebels against state power—those infrequent but vital situations in history when the subjects rise up to diminish, whittle away, or abolish state power? What, in short, of such great events as the American Revolution or the classical liberal movements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? Of course, an economic motive exists here, too, in this case one of defending the private property of the subjects from the depredations of the state. But our contention here is that, even when conjoined as in the American Revolution, the major motive of the opposition, or of the revolutionaries, will be ideological rather than economic.

The basic reason for this assertion is that the ruling class, being small and largely specialized, is motivated to think about its economic interests twenty-four hours a day. Manufacturers seeking a tariff, merchants seeking to cripple their competition, bankers looking for taxes to repay their government bonds, rulers seeking a strong state from which to acquire revenue, bureaucrats wishing to expand their empire—all of these are professionals in statism. They are constantly at work trying to preserve and expand their privileges. Hence the primacy of the economic motive in their actions. But the majority has allowed itself to be misled largely because its immediate interests are generally diffuse and hard to observe, and because the majority comprises not professional “antistatists” but people going about their business of daily living.

What can the average person know of the arcane processes of subsidy or taxation or bond issue? Generally, he is too wrapped up in his daily life, too habituated to his lot after centuries of state-guided propaganda, to give any thought to his unfortunate fate. Hence, an opposition or revolutionary movement, or indeed any mass movement from below, cannot be primarily guided by ordinary economic motives.

For such a mass movement to form, the masses must be fired up, must be aroused to a rare and uncommon pitch of fervor against the existing system. But for that to happen, the masses must be fired up by ideology. Only ideology, guided either by a new religious conversion or by a passion for justice, can arouse the interest of the masses (in the current jargon, “raise their consciousness”) and lead them out of the morass of daily habit into an uncommon and militant activity in opposition to the state.

This is not to say that an economic motive—for example, a defense of their property—does not play an important role. But to form a mass movement in opposition means that the people must shake off their habits, their daily mundane concerns of several lifetimes, and become politically aroused and determined as never before in their lives. Only a commonly held and passionately believed-in ideology can perform that role. Hence our conclusion that a mass movement like the American Revolution must be centrally motivated by a commonly shared ideology.

How then do the masses of subjects acquire this guiding and determining ideology? By the very nature of the masses, it is impossible for them to arrive at such an opposition or revolutionary ideology on their own. Habituated as they are to their narrow and daily rounds, uninterested in ideology as they normally are, it is impossible for the masses to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps to hammer out an ideological movement in opposition to the existing state.

Here we arrive at the vital role of the intellectuals. Only intellectuals, full-time (or largely full-time) professionals in ideas, have the time, the ability, and the inclination to formulate an opposition ideology and then to spread the word to the people. In contrast to the statist court intellectual, whose role is a junior partner in rationalizing the economic interests of the ruling class, the radical or opposition intellectual’s role is the centrally guiding one of formulating the opposition or revolutionary ideology and then of spreading the ideology to the masses, thereby welding them into a revolutionary movement.

An important corollary: in weighing the motivations of the intellectuals themselves or even of the masses, it is generally true that setting oneself up in opposition to an existing state is a lonely, thorny, and often dangerous road. It is usually directly in the economic interests of the radical intellectuals to allow themselves to “sell out,” to be co-opted by the ruling state apparatus. The intellectuals who do choose the radical opposition path, who pledge—in the famous words of the American revolutionaries—“their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor,” can scarcely be dominated by economic motives; on the contrary, only a fiercely held ideology, centering on a passion for justice, can keep the intellectuals to the rigorous path of truth. Hence, again, the likelihood of a dominant role for ideology in an opposition movement.

Thus, statists tend to be governed by economic motivation, with ideology serving as a smokescreen for such motives, while libertarians or anti-statists are ruled principally and centrally by ideology, with economic defense playing a subordinate role. By this dichotomy we may at last resolve the age-old historiographical dispute over whether ideology or economic interests play the dominant role in historical motivation.

Posted in Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development, Orrin Woodward | Tagged: | 24 Comments »

The Meaning of Liberty

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 17, 2012

Liberty is nearly a sacred principle for most North American citizens. With that said, however, I have a sneaking suspicion that most of us do not understand all of its implications. For example, liberty doesn’t mean license, since a person isn’t free to do anything he likes as robbing and pillaging violate others rights. Furthermore, liberty doesn’t demand society to live according to a person’s preferences enforced by coercive means. Rather, liberty implies a respect for the God-given rights of others, refusing to use violence against others, unless in self-defense.

This confusion over the meaning of liberty seems to be at the forefront of today’s culture wars. Humanists want to force everyone in school to be fed their world-view; while on the other hand, many Christian leaders want to use the public schools to force-feed a Christian world-view. One example I have read, from many, is a 1980’s article from the Humanist magazine:

I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool, daycare, or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent with its promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of “love thy neighbor” will finally be achieved.

I disagree with this philosophy for numerous reasons, one being it’s totalitarian implications. Indeed, in a free society, both the Humanist and the Christian agendas for our State school systems are improper, because they surrender liberty of thought to a monolithic mindset of one size fits all. The liberty philosophy, on the other hand, would step back from the problem further and ask: why have a public school system at all? Why not privatize the educational system so that humanist, Christians, Jews, etc, can teach the principles that they believe to their children. Isn’t freedom in education foundational to freedom in society? It seems peculiar that America values freedom so greatly, yet surrenders the freedom to educate their children to the State.

Why battle it out in public schools when liberty demands freedom for all world-views to compete in the marketplace of ideas? School vouchers would bring freedom and competition back to the woefully struggling American educational system. This isn’t a knock on the many hard-working teachers attempting to make a difference in a poorly designed system; rather, I am simply stating the “the Educational Emperor has no clothes on,” so to speak. 🙂 America will fall further and further behind if we continue to use our schools as indoctrination and socialization facilities, instead of its intended roles as learning, thinking, and doing educational centers. By giving parents the power of the purse, schools would quickly start serving the customers, not their own agendas. This is what the FREE in Free-Enterprise is all about.

America was the bastion of free enterprise and freedom for the individual, but now fights totalitarian style battles with the next-generation’s minds. America as a whole is the loser as our kids are quickly falling further and further behind in education as compared to other countries. Despite the fact that America spends more money per child than all the rest, we struggle to place in the Top 50 nations in education. This is a national embarrassment! The Mental Fitness Challenge is a program to restore some of the lost principles of a proper education back into the marketplace. Early results indicate the need is massive and the hunger is present within the populace.

Here is an article on Thomas Jefferson’s views to start the discussion on how we can free education from the powers-that-be. Even though I disagree with the humanist positions, I would fight for their right to liberty in the education of their children. Similarly, I would hope there are enough liberty loving people left in all philosophies to do the same for my family.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Faith, Freedom/Liberty, Orrin Woodward | 46 Comments »

America – Conceived in Liberty: Died in Tyranny?

Posted by Orrin Woodward on April 25, 2012

Murray Rothbard has struck again! Through reading his fascinating, albeit frustrating at times, history of America Conceived in Liberty, I stumbled across some shocking stories. Rothbard is the type of author that even when I disagree with him, I find myself laughing and thinking. I enjoy authors who make their readers think because so few do today. Since recorded history, governments have violated people’s inherent rights, but how these poor precedents proceed in perpetuity is astonishing. Has anyone studied the history of the English postal system? I certainly hadn’t! Let me quote from the irrepressible sacred cow buster Murray Rothbard:

Postal service began in the early American colonies as freely competitive private enterprises of varying forms and types. Letters between neighboring villages were sent by special messengers, who were often Indians. For longer journeys, letters were carried by travelers or regular merchants. Letters to or from England were carried by private ship captains, who often hung a bag in the local coffeehouse to receive letters for shipment. The price was generally a penny for a single letter and two pence for a double letter or parcel.

Unfortunately, English precedent held out little hope for the unhampered development of a freely competitive postal service. In 1591 the Crown had issued a proclamation granting itself the monopoly of all foreign mail, and in 1609 the Crown’s proclamation extended its own monopoly to all mail foreign or domestic. The purpose of this postal monopoly was quite simple: to enable governmental officials to read the letters of private citizens in order to discover and suppress “treason” and “sedition.”

Thus, when the Privy Council decided in 1627 to allow merchants to operate an independent foreign post, the king’s principal secretary of state wrote sternly: “Your lordship best knoweth what account we shall be able to give in our places of that which passeth by letters in or out of the land, if every man may convey letters under the course of merchants to whom and what place he pleaseth…how unfit a time this is to give liberty to every man to write and send what he list….” And in 1657 when the Commonwealth Parliament continued the English governmental postal monopoly, the preamble of the act stated a major objective: “to discover and prevent many dangerous and bigoted designs, which have been and are daily contrived against the peace and welfare of this Commonwealth, the intelligence whereof cannot well be communicated, but by letter of script.”

The first government meddling in the postal service in America came as early as 1639 in Massachusetts. At that time the government appointed Richard Fairbanks to be a receiver and deliverer of foreign letters for the price of one penny; no monopoly privilege was granted, and no one was prevented from using other postal intermediaries. The Dutch government in New Netherland went far beyond this when in 1657 it awarded itself a compulsory monopoly of receipt of foreign mail; anyone presuming to board a vessel first to obtain his own mail was fined thirty guilders. Ship captains were fined heavily for carrying letters for anyone except the government postal monopolist.

In other words, America’s “snail mail” postal monopoly has nothing to do with efficiency (I guess we all knew that :)); it has nothing to do with the poor economics of this generation; and it has everything to do with the State’s desire to spy on people’s thoughts, plans, and actions. This, mind you, from our English forefathers, whose ideas of liberty were modeled in the creation of America. The postal system is one area where we shouldn’t have applied English principles. If government has the right to spy at will, where does this right end? If someone disagrees with the ruling power, does that person have the right to open letters, emails, tap phones, etc? England’s unethical precedent is still affecting America’s postal system to this day.

I love history, but this isn’t the type of lessons I learned in school and neither will you. Since Big Government funds the schools, no one should be shocked about this. Sadly, with today’s further government interventions like the Patriot Act, to name one among many, civil liberties are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Harry Truman, an avid reader, once paraphrased Solomon when he said, “There is nothing new under the sun, only the history you don’t know.” We must educate ourselves on real history and not the government fed history from our schools and other government-funded institutions.

The battles fought over freedom today may be different in detail but astonishingly similar in principle. Yes, America was conceived in liberty; I pray it doesn’t die in tyranny.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

The Five Laws of Decline: The Greeks

Posted by Orrin Woodward on April 23, 2012

I am studying the effects of the Five Laws of Decline throughout history, and I am shocked how predictable this historical and economic method is. Let me share one of the many examples. Perhaps the reader will see a correlation with today’s American Empire. 🙂 Thanks, Orrin Woodward

The Greek City States Alliances

The Greeks were a small band of city-states bound by racial ties, but without a coercive federal union. The Five Laws of Decline (FLD) were held in check by the divided sovereignties of the Greek city-states; however, this changed with the unifying effect of the war against Persia. Initially, Sparta and the Peloponnesian League led the Greek alliance, but after the Persian’s retreat from mainland Greece and the Greek’s counterattack and victory march into the Ionian (Greek) colonies of Asia Minor, the Persian War was effectively over.

The Spartans, to their credit, wanted to terminate the alliance and enjoy some peace and tranquility. Sadly, however, once the Greeks realized the capabilities inherent in united action, the divided sovereignty stage of Greek life ended, and the empire, along with the FLD, began. With the Spartans backing out of leadership, the Athenians, led by their commander Xanthippus, vowed that if no one else would protect the Ionians of Asia Minor, then the Athenians would, especially since Asia Minor, for the most part, originally consisted of colonies from Athens.

The Delian League

In 477 BC, on the island of Delos, the Athenians led a congress of over 150 states to create a new alliance called the Delian League to fight against the Persians. This league changed the character of the Greeks forever as it launched the ravages of FLD on a scale previously unknown. Without realizing the inherent dangers associated with FLD and empire building, the Greeks formed an offense-minded league to plunder gains from weaker enemies and replace their conventional defense-minded leagues of the past. Despite the noble official aim of the Delian League, “to avenge the wrongs they suffered by ravaging the territory of the king,” in actuality, the league existed to “utilize the burgeoning might of [the] new Athenian Empire to expropriate unjust gains from league members and various victims in surrounding areas.” 🙂

Basically, there were three main objectives of the Delian League: defend against further invasions by Persia, avenge Persia’s invasion, and divide the spoils of war gained by the allies. Each ally was given a choice to either offer armed services or pay a tax into the league treasury. Given the strength of the Athenian forces and the fear of the Persians, most of the states chose to pay the tax in lieu of providing men and ships. The FLD grew rapidly under this fertile field for plunder. As the Athenians realized the ability to reap profit without efforts, the taxes quickly increased, the alliance of friendly states turned into Athenian hegemony over its weaker brethren, and the Athenians ventured out with a funded, aggressive, and victorious military seeking further plunder.

Thucydides commented on the transformation of Athens from ally to empire builder:

Of all the causes of defection, that connected with arrears of tribute and vessels, and with failure of service, was the chief; for the Athenians were very severe and exacting, and made themselves offensive by applying the screw of necessity to men who were not used to and in fact not disposed for any continuous labor. In some other respects the Athenians were not the old popular rulers they had been at first; and if they had more than their fair share of service, it was correspondingly easy for them to reduce any that tried to leave the confederacy. The Athenians also arranged for the other members of the league to pay its share of the expense in money instead of in ships and men, and for this the subject city-states had themselves to blame, their wish to get out of giving service making most leave their homes. Thus while Athens was increasing her navy with the funds they contributed, a revolt always found itself without enough resources or experienced leaders for war.

The Five Laws of Decline (FLD)

By analyzing the behavior of Athens, one quickly identifies the FLD (discussed in my book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE in the Legacy chapter) at work helping to destroy Greek liberty.

First, because of Sturgeon’s Law, it was only a matter of time before the absolute power derived from the Athenian’s dictatorial position drew proto-Machiavellian operators into the leadership positions. The Delian League’s political structure would have required angels, not men, in order to limit the possibilities of aggrandizement inherent in the Delian League’s design.

Second, Bastiat’s Law bloomed when the Athenians realized that, since they were receiving the taxes (tributes) and providing the protection, they also could dictate the terms of the “alliance” because he who has the gold makes the rules. Naxos, was the first island to realize its error and challenge the Athenian political control by attempting to withdraw from the league. The Athenians (the former lovers of liberty) viciously attacked and defeated Naxos, forcing the inhabitants to tear down their wall, surrender their fleet, and lose their vote in the Delian League. Naxos, in other words, was no longer an ally in the Delian League, but rather a prisoner of the Athenian Empire. Other states quickly read the tea leaves, and Athens resorted to threats and attacks to subjugate any allies brave enough to question Athenian hegemony.

Third, Gresham’s Law reared its ugly head by driving any noble politicians of liberty underground. Consequently, the only politicians remaining played power politics games to run the coercive league for personal and professional gain. By 461, the conservative Greek Cimon was ostracized, leading to further influence from the democratic elements led by Ephialtes and Pericles. This signaled the end of the official alliance with Sparta and the beginning of preparations for war between the two rival factions of Greeks – Peloponnesian and Athenian. Easy gain and plunder drove out the character-based conservative leaders and replaced them with plunder-hungry Machiavellian war leaders who catered to the democratic masses.

Fourth, as the Delian League digressed from an alliance into an empire, the Athenians invested time into two plunderous activities: further empire building and continued repression of any “allies” who objected to the Athenian dictates. The Athenian League grew in size and repression. Therefore, the Law of Diminishing Returns (LDR) hindered its effectiveness. In addition, the fear of the Athenian League drew a multitude of rivals to unite under the equally strong Peloponnesian League. Guess what happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object?  LDR drained the resources of the Athenian and Peloponnesian Leagues while they fought one another for decades in a dispute over greed, plunder, and power – all initiated thanks to the corrosive effects of FLD.

Fifth, the Law of Inertia ensured that the liberties enjoyed by the former independent Greek city states would be difficult, if not impossible, to revive. Each city was forced to choose between one league or the other, as the risk of facing either empire was too great on any one state’s meager resources in comparison with those of the empire. The era of independent city states was finished, and the inertia slammed the door on the previous liberties as powerful alliances were the only way to ensure protection against subjugation. Ironically, the independent city states, in other words, surrendered their independence for fear of losing their independence. 🙂

The subsequent Peloponnesian war weakened both leagues, leaving all of the Greeks prostrate before Macedonia and Alexander the Great. Liberty was snuffed out by innate desire for plunder caused by allowing the FLD to work unchecked. The Greek people would remain subjugated to the Greek, Roman, and eventually the Turkish Empire – their ignoble reward for ignoring the Five Laws of Decline.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development, Orrin Woodward | Tagged: , , | 16 Comments »

LIFE Compensation Plan: Content & Commerce

Posted by Orrin Woodward on April 20, 2012

Marc Militello describes the Content and Commerce aspects of the new LIFE business in this informative video. I listened to four CDs yesterday, and I am blown away by the quality of the information flowing into the Compensated Communities. With almost 30,000 people subscribing to LIFE materials (an almost 50% increase in 5 months), LIFE is great! Even for those who have no desire to be rewarded through community building, the information is still making a huge impact in their lives. I am receiving daily email, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Empire Avenue messages. The best way to share LIFE is to hand people a CD and allow them to see the value of the information for themselves. Find out for yourself why nearly 10,000 new subscriptions have been purchased since November 1, 2011. Here’s the video.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development, Orrin Woodward | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Tim Marks: Voyage of a Viking Review

Posted by Orrin Woodward on April 17, 2012

Here is a fantastic review of Tim Marks’s book from my friend Oliver DeMille. Oliver describes what many have felt when reading Tim’s book. Rarely, if ever, has a book combined the strengths of autobiography with success thinking as well as Voyage of a Viking has. I am proud of Tim and Amy Marks for their accomplishments and thankful for this powerful book released within the LIFE business. Enjoy the review.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

A Review of Voyage of a Viking by Tim Marks 
Reviewed by Oliver DeMille

Years ago I gave a speech at a business convention. I’ve done a lot of these, so I don’t remember every detail or venue, but several really stand out as memorable. On this occasion, the big arena had many thousands of people, but due to construction there was only one way to the stage and we had to get there early and sit on the wing of the temporary stadium stage with all the speakers for that session. A construction boss walked us all through together to ensure that we were safe and avoided the danger areas.

This turned out to be a real blessing to me, because the speaker who shared the session with me changed my life. He spoke just after me, and because of the special construction circumstances I had to stay after I spoke and listen to what he had to say. I think if I had been scheduled after him I would have been busy thinking about my own speech and not listened closely to his message.

Thankfully, I was highly motivated after my speech, and I listened carefully to every word he said.

He started by saying that nearly all his important lessons in life had come from his struggles, failures, mistakes or losses. He was a fan of golf, and talked about how every golf mistake he made taught him how to be a better golfer. He related this to life and business losses, and discussed at length how he was taught in school to avoid mistakes and focus on the lessons of success—but how real life had taught him exactly the opposite.

It was a moving speech. He had us all pencil out our 5 biggest losses and mistakes in life, and then helped us brainstorm at least three major lessons we should have learned from each. That’s fifteen top lessons, and he assured us that these lessons were some of the things we most need to achieve our goals in life. I was mesmerized, instructed, and moved. The speaker was right: my fifteen lessons have been invaluable to me.

I went away deeply touched by this speech. I have seldom listened to a speech or read a book that was so genuine, so real, so deep, and so powerful. Until today.

Today I read a book that struck me the same way this speech did. Voyage of a Viking by Tim Marks is a must read for anyone who cares about success and leadership. It will apply to moms, dads, mentors, professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and everyone else. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. I read the book straight through from the beginning to the end.

I was touched, moved, motivated, instructed. I cried. I read quotes to my wife, and later to two of my kids. I found myself taking notes about my own life, and making plans to be better. This book is incredibly real, genuine, and powerful.
Marks admits that not everything in Viking history should be emulated, but he emphasizes how much we can learn from the positive Viking traits, including such things as yearning for freedom, being courageous explorers and connecting communities. He teaches how the name for the modern Bluetooth comes from the Viking king “Bluetooth” Gormsson of AD 958, a great builder of bridges (literally and figuratively) between communities. This concept of bridge-building is still much needed in all facets of modern leadership.

Marks shows how another Viking trait worthy of emulation is bullheadedness, which combines initiative and innovation with tenacity and ingenuity. Together these form the base of the great entrepreneurial values—they are also the de facto values of the great free societies in history.

One of the most moving things in this book is Marks’ view of what it means to be an adult, a leader, and a man. In many ways this reminds me of one of my favorite authors—Louis L’Amour. Some prestigious universities were criticized a few years back when they began using L’Amour texts in great literature courses, but this didn’t surprise me. Some of his works are, in fact, truly great.
As a youth, one of my favorite pastimes was reading L’Amour. My dad was a school teacher by trade, and my mom was an English teacher for both high school and college, but our family ran a farm with croplands as well as cattle, sheep, horses and other animals, and a lot of my non-school time was spent working with my dad and brothers on the farm.

In later years, after I became an author, my brothers made it a standing joke to laugh about how often they’d be in the middle of a farm project (hauling hay, moving wheat into bins, building fences, shearing sheep, exercising the horses, etc.) only to notice that somehow I’d slipped away from the work and was nowhere to be found—I was nearly always high on a haystack in one of the barns reading books by L’Amour or some other author. Marks’ Voyage of a Viking book would have fit right in.

This is a book about life, what it means to live a good one, and how all of us have to overcome our challenges if we want to make a positive difference in the world. In my book The Student Whisperer, which I wrote with Tiffany Earl, I wrote about the “desert” or “wilderness” that all leaders must pass through on the path to any success, but I have never seen it more effectively described than in Voyage of a Viking. This alone is worth the price of the book.

But there is so much more. Marks’ thesis sums up what this book, and in fact all success in life, is all about: “Define what you want, learn from someone who has gone before you, and then do it for the glory of God.” Right on. It is full of profound gems. For example: “Being humble doesn’t mean you think less of yourself—it means you think of yourself less,” and “We can judge how good we are as students by how fast we implement our mentor’s advice.”

Perhaps the most powerful thing about this excellent book, as I mentioned earlier, is that it is one of those rare contributions to success literature that shows how our losses, struggles, setbacks, mistakes, and challenges are some of our most important teachers and mentors. A lot of books tell us to make lemonade out of lemons or see the silver lining in things, but this book shows us how this works—in real life, in the face of real obstacles, in our own experiences. As such, it is literally a must read.

Leadership is about wisdom, and Voyage of a Viking is a profoundly wise book. There a few wisdom books every leader simply must read, like Corrie Ten Boom’s Tramp for the Lord, Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints, or L’Amour’s The Last of the Breed. And, of course, there are a few truly wise business books, such as The Radical Leap by Steve Farber, Good to Great by Jim Collins, Organizing Genius by Warren Bennis, Johnson’s and Blanchard’s Who Moved My Cheese?, among others.  And who can forget Goleman’s Primal Leadership, or The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey? Tim Marks’ Voyage of a Viking fits right in to this list.

As Marks himself says about this book: “This is a no-holds-barred discussion on the speed of the leader determining the speed of the group.” This book is fun. It is about finding yourself as a leader by dedicating your life to serving others, and it is about the adage, as articulated in the foreword by Orrin Woodward, that example in leadership isn’t the main thing; it’s everything.
I’m still applying those 15 lessons I penciled out years ago as I listened just off stage, and I know that many years in the future I’ll still be re-reading and applying the things I learned today in Voyage of a Viking. It’s a truly great book. So do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on this great contribution to leadership!

Oliver DeMille is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education, Leadership Education, The Student Whisperer, The Coming Aristocracy, FreedomShift, and other books on freedom and leadership.

Posted in Community/Friends, Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

Welfare Plus Warfare Equals Unfair

Posted by Orrin Woodward on April 16, 2012

America’s leadership deficit may be the only thing bigger than Washington’s budget deficit. Since FDR took over the presidential helm back in 1932, every president has supported either the Welfare State or the Warfare State. In truth, most have supported both! Consequently, the GNP to national debt ratio has surged embarrassingly close to banana republic levels. It seems America is determined to follow the course of the Roman Empire; eschewing the need for external enemies, America is collapsing as Rome did from within, riding the waves of poorly planned and executed internal policies.

On one hand, the Welfare State feeds, clothes, and houses people, which seems like a noble gesture until one understands learned helplessness. Why should men and women marry when the government will provide for mother and child without the father’s involvement. Fathers are freed from the responsibilities of raising a family that are essential in transforming males into men. This isn’t hypothetical as the percentage of children being born to unwed mothers has skyrocketed since the government began providing “help.” Communities across America ought to plead with government to stop helping them into learned helplessness and allow them to help the real charity cases locally.

On the other hand, the Warfare State recruits, trains, and supplies a military, which seems like a proper role of government until one understands the empire building methods of our current governments. Governments should protect their citizens from foreign invasion, but our current military adventures – military bases in nearly 150 countries – no longer seem like protection, but rather empire building. I am thankful for America’s military, and my dad served as a Green Beret; however, we cannot afford to allow our government to volunteer America’s military as the world’s police force for free, especially when we are beyond broke!

Each country must provide for its own military protection, ending our “allies” learned helplessness served up by America’s government at the taxpayers’ expense. Is there any country that is threatening to invade America currently? In contrast, how many countries is America threatening to invade? Like the old saying goes, if the only tool you have is a hammer, then everyone looks like a nail. The Soviet Union – the bogeyman needed for a cold war – is no more, but America’s defense spending is alive and well. Despite trillions in deficits, our leaders feel the need to play empire at our country’s expense. Is there any sanity left in Washington, DC? Perhaps our current “leaders” ought to read George Washington’s thoughts on the principle of “entangling alliances.”

When one group provides for another that it is fully capable of providing for itself, both groups end up ruined – the first through increased spending and decreased productivity and the second through increased passivity and decreased productivity. This is the perfect lose/lose scenario, one in which our government specializes. 🙂 How long must we ignore common sense and the lessons of history? Simply put, the government’s welfare and warfare strategies are unfair and unsustainable. Wake up, America, before it’s too late!

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Finances, Freedom/Liberty, Leadership/Personal Development | 12 Comments »

LIFE Island: Family & Friends

Posted by Orrin Woodward on April 6, 2012

In 1998, I got this crazy dream. I had had many dreams that others thought were crazy at the time, but I had always believed they were fairly reasonable. Yet even I knew this particular dream was crazy! However, an important point about life is that if you’re not willing to dream crazy dreams, then crazy dreams will never come true for you.

Anyway, as an engineer at Delphi, a division of General Motors, I placed pictures on my cubicle wall of an in-house movie theater, houses on the lakes, properties with forests, and yachts, to name just a few. Each of the pictures was courageously pinned on the wall. I say courageously because when new engineers joined the Delphi division, they were given a tour of the facility. Without fail, one of the last stops was my cubicle to show them the crazy pictures I had on the wall. Sure they laughed at me while the tour guide explained again why engineers don’t live like this. I didn’t like it, but it only steeled my resolve. I figured that it was better for them to laugh at me while I kept my dreams than for them to stop laughing because I had surrendered my dreams.

As I reflect back, every single picture pinned on that wall came true. In fact, many of the PC members have accomplished the pictures today. Ok, there is one picture that still hasn’t been accomplished. It’s not that it hasn’t come true; it’s still just a work-in-progress. 🙂 Some of you may have already guessed what that dream is: LIFE Island. I remember hesitating when I placed the island picture on the wall; I didn’t take placing a picture lightly because I knew it was a commitment made to myself to follow through, and this island picture was a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, or BHAG (as Jim Collins calls it). Many times, I stared at that island dreaming of the day when a fleet of yachts would travel from Florida (yes, I had a Florida property on the wall) to the island.

There are two types of people reading this article. The first group will think I am crazy to dream a BHAG of this magnitude, believing there’s no way the LIFE community can achieve that. The ones in the second group, in contrast, will study the picture and feed their elephant minds. This group understands Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s proclamation, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” This article won’t teach a person how to build a LIFE business; instead, it is an expression of fourteen years of longing for an island to enjoy with my family and friends.

Can anyone else imagine the evening picnics at the beach park, cookouts, volleyball, horseshoes, and late-night conversation around the firepit all while enjoying the beautiful views and listening to the ocean surf behind us? Community and fellowship are essential for the picture I have envisioned. I can see the fleet of PC yachts making its way into the LIFE Island harbor. Laurie and I greet people as they disembark from their private yachts and ready themselves for several months of R&R on the island. As you step off your yacht, you realize that every plan, every challenge, every year was worth the effort required to achieve this victory.

The aroma of freshly grilled steaks, chicken, and fish permeates the air as you mingle among friends. Freshly squeezed fruit juices tease your taste buds as you recalibrate yourself to the island tempo. Imagine Chris Brady, Tim Marks, Claude Hamilton, George Guzzardo, Bill Lewis, Dan Hawkins, and their lovely brides looking you in the eyes and welcoming you to the dream-come-true LIFE Island. Later, many will walk the island trails for the first time—speechless as they realize that the dream they have yearned for, the dream they have worked for, the dream they have struggled for has finally come true.

I know; I know—I must be crazy. I have been hearing the same thing for years now. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about BHAGs, it’s that if it doesn’t take your breath away, then it’s not a BHAG at all. This dream has always (and still does) taken my breath away! Today, by posting this picture, I am officially launching the quest for LIFE Island. Consider this blog as my new office wall. Go ahead and look at the picture. Now that you have seen it, here is my question: Which group do you belong to? One group will laugh now but live with the pain of sacrificed dreams later; the other group will sacrifice now but live with friends on an island of dreams later.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

Posted in Community/Friends, Faith, Family, Finances, Freedom/Liberty, Orrin Woodward | Tagged: , | 59 Comments »

 
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