freedom

054 – The Time to Act

Something’s not right.

Looking across the landscape of America today, we can see that something’s not right. Living here, we feel it. In our communities, we hear all about it. There is an ever-widening gap forming between the world that we believed in when we were younger and the world that we see now.

And something needs to be done.

In times of record debt and unfunded liabilities in the institutions above us and record divorce rates and instances of neglect and abuse in the families in our communities, we are sandwiched in a failing culture. We’ve done everything we’ve been told: we went to school, studied hard, got good grades, and maybe even got a “safe, secure” job, but nothing came out like it was supposed to. Instead, we see massive rates of unemployment that don’t factor into millions who are underemploymed and hundreds of thousands who have just given up. We see scandal after scandal breaking on the news because we’ve been taught that the screen on the television should be more captivating than spending time engaged with our families. Sociologists claim that increases in violence in our communities come from young men who take lives because they have no value for lives because they don’t believe that their own lives are valuable. The children in our communities grow up with television characters as role models because idealizing fiction is the only way to believe that what they can expect will be as good as fiction.

But it won’t be. And that is okay. The world is not meant to be perfect. We shouldn’t expect 0% unemployment, a government that functions without the involvement of the people (!) or a job that’s handed to us just because we’ve jumped through one or two more hoops than the last guy. We shouldn’t expect the world to be fine without us. We should expect to have to engage. We should expect to have to put in the time and effort to maintain and grow the freedoms and opportunities that we were born with, because not everyone is and not everyone will be.

You see, something’s not right in the world. And it’s time to do something about it.

It’s time for us to ask ourselves what we would spend our time here doing. Because I’ll tell you this: we don’t have a million years to do this. You’ve been told that all you have to do is study hard, get good grades, get a safe, secure job, a house with a white picket fence, a spouse, two-point-three kids, and a golden retriever, and you’ll be happy. What you weren’t told is what that really costs, versus what its value is.

You see, working 40 hours a week, if you’re lucky enough to keep the number that low, the average person spends 100,000 hours at work in their lifetime. They’ll go on to spend 25,000 hour with the person they marry, if they do marry. If they have children, they’ll spend 12,500 hours or less with them before their time is up. Now, if I were to ask you to rank your priorities, including family, friends, money, God, and hobbies, how would you rank them? And no cheating by reading what you just read above.

Do you see how your time can get eaten up right in front of you without you even noticing it? We’re told what to do to live the life we want, but nobody has ever asked what the life we want looks like. We decide what we want to “do” when we grow up before we even consider what we want to “be”. Because what most of us will “be” if we continue on this path is busy, distracted, distant from our families, and largely underutilized when it comes to our potential.

Today, we see a frightening number of people unemployed because they went to college and got a degree only to find that there was nobody willing to hire them to do a job when they got out. Well, I’ll say this. I do not believe that the first ships of refugees from the Old World that landed here in the colonies hopped off their boats and strolled into Wal-Mart for a job application. I don’t believe that they stepped off their boats and booted up their macbooks to e-mail their resume to GM. I believe that our country was founded on the principle that whatever it took to build a life of freedom and peace to live by their own priorities, the men and women who came here to establish their dreams were going to do it.

And that, my friends, is what’s not right in the world today. We’ve lived so long on the efforts of those who came before us that we didn’t think we had to contribute to keep it going. But we do. And we should. And it won’t be easy. But it will be worth it. We don’t have a million years to do this. But we do have the time necessary to act. And at this point, it is the time to act.

Sincerely,

Jared Schulman

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051 – The Calling

“I was taught that everything is attainable if you’re prepared to give up, to sacrifice, to get it. Whatever you want to do, you can do it, if you want to do it badly enough…and I do believe that. I believe that if I wanted to run a mile in four minutes I could do it. I would have to give up everything else in life, but I could run a mile in four minutes. I believe that if a man wanted to walk on water and was prepared to give up everything else in life, he could do that.”

– Stirling Moss, excerpted from The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino

I first read the book I just quoted above over a year and a half ago. Feeling compelled a couple of weeks ago, I pulled it back off my shelf and have been idly flipping through my highlights intermittently since. That quote above hit me just as hard today as it did in February of 2011.

See, I do believe in many ways that under the right circumstances, we fickle, soft, flawed creatures (humans) are actually capable of doing just about anything we set our hearts on. Or that our hearts are set on, depending on your interpretation. Why do I believe this? Simply because any cursory examination of history will show that human beings have frequently achieved not only the pinnacle of what was thought to be possible, but have also achieved far beyond what has been thought to be possible at various times throughout our brief history. With that knowledge, even limited as it is, who am I to say that anyone is incapable of doing anything their heart is set on- anything that they dream possible?

Laurie Woodward has said before that, “Behind us, or perhaps above us, lies infinite power. And in front of us lies infinite possibility.” That statement alone summarizes this entire text far better than I can in far more words. (So if you want, you can re-read that quote, think on it for a minute, and then not read any more of this. Or keep reading. Your choice.)

I’ve yet to come across a human being in my lifetime whom I did not believe was capable of greatness. I would, in fact, go so far as to say that we are likely all meant for greatness. Each one of us is part of an ever-changing world. We each play a part in shaping our collective future. If a person goes into the desert and moves one grain of sand but an inch, haven’t they changed the world? What about the person who takes a struggling friend in and invests their time in helping that friend through their struggles? Certainly that person hasn’t cured a deadly disease or negotiated peace between world superpowers; but they have helped cure a person’s heart and negotiate peace inside that person’s mind. That alone is a feat of incredible accomplishment.

It used to be that fighting valiantly for a noble cause was considered great in and of itself. These days we find ourselves so concerned with our own greatness, or at least the image of it, that we refuse to strive greatly for anything, scared to fail lest we be revealed as the imperfect humans we are.

I submit to you this:

Make the choice to be great. Once you make the choice to be great- and I mean truly make that choice- it’s done. There’s no going back. But! You still have to decide on a daily basis what you’re going to do to advance yourself toward that goal. That’s why once you truly decide, it’s over. It can’t be a try. Yes, you can mentally insert a Yoda quote here.

However, I would also submit to you this:

It won’t be easy. But wait. If we’re meant to be great, why isn’t it easy? That doesn’t seem fair!
Well, I don’t know about you, but I was never raised being taught that life was fair. In fact, I seem to recall some lessons to the contrary. But when we think about it, doesn’t that just about make sense? If we’re meant to be all that we’re created to be, shouldn’t it take all that we’ve got to get there?

Only too often, we’re our own worst enemies. We hold ourselves back from greatness because of a mixture of fear and pride. We limit ourselves. We build cages around our potential.

I submit to you this:

“You were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” – Galatians 5:13

“Go therefore and do that which is within you to do. Take no heed of gestures which would beckon you aside, and ask of no man permission to perform.” – Frederick Dey

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