Thursday, October 6, 2011

'Your Time Is Limited: Don't Waste It'

'Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.
Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking.
Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.'
Steven Jobs gave this speech to the 2005 graduates of Stanford University which is a must-read for anyone who is taking a risk every day and building a business and providing jobs for the rest of us.

But it also applies directly to how we all should look at the political world around us today and the public arena in which the battle of ideas are fought on a continual basis.

Just listen to the words as you sound them out above and imagine that someone at the Founding of our Democratic Republic such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington or George Mason were saying them at the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 or the passage of the US Constitution in 1787.

We think the words might have sounded somewhat like this:

'Our time is limited, gentlemen.  The King of England tells us what to do, when to do it and how to do it. He taxes us without end and he spends our money in ways with which we vehemently disagree.
We are wasting our lives and freedoms by living the life he has chosen for us.
We came to America to pursue our dreams of freedom: religious freedom, freedom to think and speak freely, freedom to pursue the goals we we want to pursue, not be subservient to a centralized power such as this 'king' and his whims and wishes.
We consider the tyranny of the mind to be the worst of all imaginable sins.  When we are forced to live with the results of other people's thinking and by their directive, we will surely die an unhappy person.
We can not let the noise of others' opinions drown out our own inner voice. 
And most important, we must have the courage to follow our own hearts and intuitions. They somehow already know what we truly want to become. A free and prosperous yet generous nation.
Everything else is secondary.'
Why are we so content as a nation today to allow our duly-elected representatives, senators and Presidents to continually make repeatedly wrong-headed decisions on our behalf?  Does that reflect the collective intelligence of this nation?  Are we that 'stupid' as a country nowadays?

Or is it that the very best people we have in this country, those with massive amounts of brains, intelligence, charisma, charm, talent, ability, perseverance and guts, have simply chosen to live the 'life of leisure' and disengage from the hard work that a democratic republic such as ours takes to stay afloat?

We have heard it said many, many times:

  1. 'I am too busy at work'.
  2. 'I have worked hard for what I have and own.  I am not going to sacrifice any time at my various vacation homes or clubs to run for office and then, (audible 'ugh!' sound comes up from the diaphragm) 'become a (lowly) public servant!'
  3. 'I just don't care any more.'
  4. 'It is beyond hopeless.  The crazy, lazy people have taken over this country.'

We don't think Thomas Jefferson or James Madison or Benjamin Franklin would have fit very well into your circle of friends.  They would have been too busy saving the Republic right now.

They were among the most brilliant and successful people this nation has yet to produce, although Steven Jobs and Bill Gates and a few others will be remembered in the national history books in about 200 years as being almost of their equal in terms of positive impact on our national life together.

They sacrificed everything, and we mean everything, from their fortunes to their spacious homes to their reputations to their very lives, and put them on the line to fight and then secure our very freedoms that we so lackadaisically take for granted nowadays.

"Freedom isn't 'free'!" is the old adage people use to salute veterans of foreign wars who have defended our physical freedom.

'Free Enterprise Ain't Free!' either.  It has to be defended and protected just like our freedom of speech, religion and right to assembly have to be protected from repeated attacks.

It is your choice.  You can either rise to the challenge and help protect and defend the ideals of America by either running for political office or vigorously supporting like-minded candidates with your generous financial support on an annual giving basis.

And that is just about it, truth be told. Your vote means something and your opinions amongst your friends and in the occasional posting on Facebook, Twitter or in the newspapers that are somehow still hanging barely to life by a thread, also 'matter'.

But our words don't move mountains, do they?  Our 'actions' do.  Our actions speak more thunderously than any words we can speak.

Take Steven Jobs' words to heart as you consider what you are going to do with the rest of your life and the current political situation right now.

The answer has already been revealed to you in his Stanford commencement speech.


  1. What if my inner voice tells me that fighting within the system is a misguided path, which only serves to strengthen the system itself? What if it's not the particular politician which is the problem, but the size and scope of the government, which cannot be changed through elections alone? What if I know that even if we were able to change the system, there are enough stupid people in the country now that any popular vote on a new system would leave us with something just as bad, or possibly worse, than what we have now?

    I would love for there to be a path which leads from where the country had devolved into now to a prosperous ideal, but I do not see it. It's a virtually insurmountable mountain of necessary changes, and virtually all the forces in the country are aligned against getting there. I believe the best first step would be some sort of "splinter country" which could be independent, and start over (sorta like Seasteading, but on land previously belonging to an existing country), but I can't see how we could win a fight with the government (and possibly all governments) to get there.

    I hate that I will be leaving a country for my children worse than the one I grew up in, and far worse than the one envisioned by the founders. This hate is not yet strong enough to compel me to sacrifice my life for a chance to make a dent in the massive festering problem we call our government.

  2. The ONLY legitimate way, then Nick, is for you to run for Congress and change it from the inside.

    Not only is that the best form of 'peaceful protest' there is, but it is also the only way the Founders wanted us to 'change government' peaceful elections among free people

    If you are unwilling to run, then you must support people you agree with with your financial contributions AND you volunteer support.both of them, not one or the other.

    And by the way, 'quit' is a 4-letter word in the Hill House...once you quit the first time, quitting and running away from it all becomes easier and easier as obstacles hurl their way into your life.

    so don't 'quit' either. It ain't American.

  3. With all due respect, I think your position is based largely on your personal experience in and around government, and I'm not sure I share it. The whole idea of being involved in government, an institution which I (along with most of the country) largely despise, is repugnant to me. Why would I spend my very limited time and money trying to marginally influence the doings of a system which I detest, especially when there are many other people with far more time and money to apply to such an effort? Moreover, in doing so, I would risk strengthening the institution by operating within its defined methodologies, which I also often find contemptible. It just does not seem like a good plan.

    The festering wound which our government has become makes a mockery of the ideals of the Founders. There was a recent poll in which over 50% of Americans thought our government was a pressing, immediate threat to their freedom; I'm happy the number is rising, but I have to wonder how we could possibly fix things through peaceful elections when that figure is not closer to 100%. I'm not advocating violent revolution, but something more than "support like-minded politicians" is going to be necessary if we want to have meaningful change, and a real improvement for the people.

    Besides, as I said before, I have no desire to be in politics, nor do I have the desire to subject myself to the gauntlet of exposure, ridicule, and personal attacks which inevitably go along with running for office in today's country. The concept of electing enlightened leadership might be sound, but today's elections are media-fueled popularity contests, where the winner is the one who convincingly promises the most kickbacks, favors, and divisive policies to support a fervent base, all of which are repulsive to me. Sorry... that's not something I'm remotely interested in, even if it were possible.

  4. Then, Nick, I have only one question if you are so disinterested in representative democracy that you will never entertain the thought of running for office to change it, (I am assuming you vote but you probably don't based on what you say here), and I am willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that you have never contributed to any campaign to some gutsy courageous person with balls who is willing to bear the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to run and change things for the better...

    'Why the hell should anyone care what you think about anything in the public policy arena?'

    You choose to drop out and not care what happens, why should anyone give a damn what you think about anything?

    I am serious. Everything you say about sounds ridiculous when put in the context of never wanting to do a damn thing one way or another to fix things.

    You just don't matter if you disengage totally from the process.


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