Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’

23rd April
2014
written by Sean Noble

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Arizona Republic ran a lengthy story on the front page of a recent Sunday edition about the 1964 presidential campaign of conservative icon Barry Goldwater.

Here is the lede:

“Barry Goldwater’s insurgent presidential bid 50 years ago was a spectacular failure as a political campaign.”

What jolted me was the “50 years ago” phrase. 50 years! That’s nearly a lifetime. And yet his campaign was one of the most consequential efforts of the modern-day conservative movement. As George Will has quipped, “Goldwater won the election, it just took 16 years to count the votes,” in a nod to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

It was Reagan’s epic speech “A Time For Choosing” that launched his national profile.

In that speech he said:

Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, “We don’t know how lucky we are.” And the Cuban stopped and said, “How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to.” And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.

And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down: [up] man’s old — old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

***

You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” And this — this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s “peace through strength.” Winston Churchill said, “The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits — not animals.” And he said, “There’s something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.

We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.

Thus, Goldwater’s loss was America’s, and the world’s, gain with the election of Reagan in 1980.

When you look back at Goldwater’s convention acceptance speech, at this moment in time it is downright prophetic:

Now, my fellow Americans, the tide has been running against freedom. Our people have followed false prophets. We must, and we shall, return to proven ways– not because they are old, but because they are true. We must, and we shall, set the tide running again in the cause of freedom. And this party, with its every action, every word, every breath, and every heartbeat, has but a single resolve, and that is freedom – freedom made orderly for this nation by our constitutional government; freedom under a government limited by laws of nature and of nature’s God; freedom – balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the slavery of the prison cell; balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the license of the mob and of the jungle.

Now, we Americans understand freedom. We have earned it, we have lived for it, and we have died for it. This Nation and its people are freedom’s model in a searching world. We can be freedom’s missionaries in a doubting world. But, ladies and gentlemen, first we must renew freedom’s mission in our own hearts and in our own homes.

***

I know this freedom is not the fruit of every soil. I know that our own freedom was achieved through centuries, by unremitting efforts by brave and wise men. I know that the road to freedom is a long and a challenging road. I know also that some men may walk away from it, that some men resist challenge, accepting the false security of governmental paternalism.

And I pledge that the America I envision in the years ahead will extend its hand in health, in teaching and in cultivation, so that all new nations will be at least encouraged to go our way, so that they will not wander down the dark alleys of tyranny or to the dead-end streets of collectivism. My fellow Republicans, we do no man a service by hiding freedom’s light under a bushel of mistaken humility.

I seek an American proud of its past, proud of its ways, proud of its dreams, and determined actively to proclaim them. But our example to the world must, like charity, begin at home.

***

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

The beauty of the very system we Republicans are pledged to restore and revitalize, the beauty of this Federal system of ours is in its reconciliation of diversity with unity. We must not see malice in honest differences of opinion, and no matter how great, so long as they are not inconsistent with the pledges we have given to each other in and through our Constitution. Our Republican cause is not to level out the world or make its people conform in computer regimented sameness. Our Republican cause is to free our people and light the way for liberty throughout the world.

Ours is a very human cause for very humane goals.

Arizona should be proud of producing the father of modern-day conservatism.  Barry Goldwater was a principled and stalwart defender of freedom every moment of his political career.  He saw the future of the conservative movement in Ronald Reagan, and it is now the time for conservatives to redouble our efforts to groom the conservative leaders of the future.

The future of our country depends on it.

14th June
2013
written by Sean Noble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Flag Day! As you may or may not know June 14th is the celebration of Flag Day, as formally adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1777. The establishment of an official flag for the United States was a powerful symbol for the nation. Sadly, this holiday is not officially recognized by the federal government, therefore people do not have a day off of work to fire up their grill under said flag, and if you were to conduct a random survey, most people probably wouldn’t know what Flag Day signifies.

As a nation we often forget the sacrifices that have been made in the name of Old Glory.  Not only for Americans, but also for those around the world who catch a glimpse of the stars and stripes, the American flag represents freedom from tyranny and the rights granted to every citizen under our Constitution. In these turbulent times, I look at the flag waving atop the U.S. Capitol’s rotunda and remember that freedom isn’t free.

Whatever you want to call the current issues and events facing the United States – be it scandals, lies, cover-ups, dilemmas – in the end truth and justice will prevail, as it has throughout this nation’s history. The flag represents everything that is so good about America’s democracy. It serves as a symbol to let the world know that, though divisions may exist in our country, all is well. Politicians have come and gone, flags have been defaced across the world, but history has shown that we as a nation have endured trouble, only to rise like a phoenix – better and stronger. Long may that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

8th April
2013
written by Sean Noble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It could’ve been the start of a joke: an actor from Hollywood, a Polish priest, and a British lady got together… Instead, it was the start of freedom’s greatest story.  With well-explained principles, well-executed ideas, and an unflagging belief in the human spirit, this trio peacefully ended the Cold War and brought freedom to millions.

Each added unique and complementary qualities to the group—kind of like the X-Men—creating an undefeatable force.  Pope John Paul II possessed quiet grace and Christ-like dedication to the less fortunate, Ronald Reagan sunny optimism and compelling leadership, and the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, bold tenacity and intrepid force. (Imagine the dinner party they’ll have in Heaven tonight!)

They understood, and made it a popularly accepted truth, that freedom leads to prosperity because it allows human ingenuity, creativity, and aspiration—the human spirit—to thrive.  In light of this, they argued, government’s sole responsibility in the freedom-prosperity equation is to protect and defend freedom; not to provide freedom, God does that, and not to create prosperity, people do that.  In performing its role, government must treat people equally, not make them equal, as the current inhabitant of the White House would like to do.

Thatcher said, “We are all unequal. No one, thank heavens, is like anyone else, however much the Socialists may pretend otherwise.  We believe that everyone has the right to be unequal but to us every human being is equally important… Everyone must be allowed to develop the abilities he knows he has within him, and she knows she has within her, in the way they choose.”

Thatcher and Reagan eloquently explained the virtues of conservatism and the perils of liberalism/collectivism/socialism/communism.  Given the clear, obvious distinction, voters in both countries chose the conservative vision again and again.

Thatcher could delightfully dissect her opponents’ demagoguery with a clear-sighted wit.  Take for example this 1990 exchange between Margaret Thatcher and Simon Hughes, a Labour Party MP:

HUGHES: There is no doubt that the Prime Minister, in many ways, has achieved substantial success. There is one statistic, however, that I understand is not challenged, and that is that, during her 11 years as Prime Minister, the gap between the richest 10% and the poorest 10% in this country has widened substantially. At the end of her chapter of British politics, how can she say that she can justify the fact that many people in a constituency such as mine are relatively much poorer, much less well housed and much less well provided for than they were in 1979? Surely she accepts that that is not a record that she or any Prime Minister can be proud of.

THATCHER: People on all levels of income are better off than they were in 1979. The hon. Gentleman is saying that he would rather that the poor were poorer, provided that the rich were less rich. That way one will never create the wealth for better social services, as we have. What a policy. Yes, he would rather have the poor poorer, provided that the rich were less rich. That is the Liberal policy.

**It’s worth watching or reading the entire exchange.

I mourn her loss and I mourn the current absence of a conservative champion like her on the world stage.  Thankfully, with the nonstop coverage of her death and the many tributes to her, the Iron Lady can take one final swipe at the Left.  President Obama has argued for months that the rich must pay their “fair share” and the government must spend more, but today, millions will be reminded over and over again that, “the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

Thank you Margaret Thatcher.  The world is a better, freer place for your efforts.  Farewell, Iron Lady.

6th February
2013
written by Sean Noble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(picture courtesy of Dr. Fred Vidal)

 

On this day, 102 years ago, God made Ronald Reagan – ok, so He made him before that, but you get the point.  Reagan was a blessing to America, becoming President at the very time that his country needed him.  If there was ever a time we needed another Reagan, it is now.

Reagan embodied a concept of America very different than our current President. In his final address to the nation from the Oval office he spoke of the success of America as an example of freedom.

“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”

Happy birthday President Reagan. We miss you, we need you.

 

3rd July
2012
written by Sean Noble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4th of July is known for parades, rodeos, barbeques, sparklers and fireworks… in other words, a celebration. And it should be.

But think about the atmosphere in what became known as Independence Hall on that fateful day in 1776. This was a solemn assembly of great, established and successful men who were engaging in radical activity – revolting from an oppressive government and risking their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in the process.

I have wondered if any of those men, as they lined up to sign what very well could be their own death warrant, hesitated or had second thoughts. I’d like to think that I would have been at the front of the line, but I have never been in any situation that is remotely similar, so who knows?

The one thing I do know is that I am eternally grateful for the courage and resolve of those great men, our Founding Fathers.

They weren’t perfect. Far from it. But they were the right men at the right time, fulfilling what I truly believe was implementing God’s will to establish a nation of freedom.

This is why we believe in American Exceptionalism. What other possible explanation is there for such a collection of great men in the right place (the colonies) at the right time (the 1770’s). I don’t think there is a time since then that we could replicate that collection of men.

They were creating a nation that would live up to John Winthrop’s vision of the “city on the hill” which would serve as an example of freedom to the rest of the world.

The best explanation of this vision comes from Ronald Reagan’s final address from the Oval Office on January 11, 1989:

The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the “shining city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free. I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.

Yes, this nation is the shining city on the hill and it is worthy of great celebration.

On this Independence Day, pause and offer a prayer of thanks to God for putting 56 men in a hot and stuffy room in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776 who, with quiet courage, made it all possible.

 

 

3rd July
2010
written by Sean Noble

“Isn’t our choice really not one of left or right, but of up or down? Down through the welfare state to statism, to more and more government largesse accompanied always by more government authority, less individual liberty, and ultimately, totalitarianism, always advanced as for our own good.  The alternative is the dream conceived by our Founding Fathers, up to the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with an orderly society.  We don’t celebrate dependence day on the Fourth of July.  We celebrate Independence Day.” –Ronald Reagan

15th February
2010
written by Sean Noble

This is tragic, and hits close to home. I’ve known Tom Stewart for a number of years, and was always impressed by his commitment to the American Dream. He was a guy who put his money where his mouth was, walked the walked, talked the talk.  He was a freedom fighter.

No one will ever know how much of an impact he had on conservatism in America, because no one person knows all the different things in which he engaged. What small part I saw in that world was impressive by itself, but I know it was just a smidgen of his influence.

Tom Stewart was a “great American” before being a great American was cool. Not only did he create thousands and thousands of jobs, he worked hard at protecting the system that allowed him to be successful. He didn’t just take his piece of the pie, he made sure there was a bigger pie left behind.

When I learned of his death, it rattled me. Bad. I realize now it is because it is not just the passing of a man, but the passing of era.

Our prayers go out to the families of Tom and Madena Stewart. RIP.

UPDATE

An updated story here. The official statement from SGA below.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Feb. 15, 2010) – Services Group of America (SGA) has announced that Chairman & CEO Thomas J. Stewart was killed in a helicopter accident yesterday (Feb. 14) north of Scottsdale at approximately 3 p.m.

The company helicopter was en route to Scottsdale Air Park from the Flagstaff area when it crashed in a desert wash.

A total of five passengers were aboard the helicopter when it departed from the Flagstaff area.  Authorities conducted a thorough ground and air search of the crash area Sunday afternoon and into the night.  They are certain there were no survivors. Authorities are advising that it will take some time to identify all of the passengers.

The cause of the crash is not known at this time and the company is working closely with the investigating agencies.

Stewart, 64, was a long-time philanthropist who supported education and the arts; a community activist championing free enterprise; a life-long adventurer; and a foodservice industry leader.

Services Group of America is a $2.7 billion company which is ranked 157th on the Forbes’ Largest Private Companies in the U.S. list. The company is the parent company of a number of companies including Food Services of America, Systems Services of America, Amerifresh, Ameristar Meats and Development Services of America.  The roots of the company go back 40 years when Stewart was building Stevedoring Services of America in Seattle.

He moved the corporate headquarters from Seattle to Scottsdale in 2006.

The company is privately-held and family-owned, a structure that will not change despite the accident, according to Peter K. Smith, president and COO of SGA.

“Tom was first and foremost a visionary,” he said. “He had a clear and concise continuity plan for the enterprise in place and was completely confident in the current leadership team.”

“With our people, our processes and our technology, we will continue our current operations without missing a beat,” said Smith.  “That’s how Tom planned it and that’s what he wanted.  We continue to be a privately-held, family-owned business that offers the highest level of service in our industries.  That will never change.”

Stewart was known for being a deft financier and a calculating risk taker. During his career, he formed or acquired 45 companies; sold or spun-off 22; merged 18 into other companies and closed 79. He is legendary for his epic adventures including a horseback trip with his family riding the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest trail from Mexico to Canada and a jeep safari across the continent of Africa.  He was an avid golfer, horseman, rancher, fisherman, skier, scuba diver and team roper.

The Stewart family is currently making memorial service arrangements which will be announced at a later date.

For more historical information on SGA and Tom Stewart, go to www.servicesgroupofamerica.com


9th November
2009
written by Sean Noble

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. I remember standing in the living room of a friend of mine in Indiana in shock with what was happening. The first thing I thought of was Reagan’s speech at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987, in which he said:

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

To think that only two years and five months later the wall came down. That’s power. That’s influence. That’s leadership.

11th September
2009
written by Sean Noble

mmc-su-9-11-011

I received an email today from my brother-in-law that he had written to mark the 8th anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11 2001.  It is excellent.

Like most of you, I remember clearly where I was and what I was doing when news of the attacks was received on September 11, 2001.  Shortly after the first tower fell, I was driving my daughter to work, and I recall making the comment, ‘The world will never be the same.’   Through the ensuing years that prophetic statement is being realized…..in both positive and negative ways.

A particularly positive outcome was the surge in patriotism and expressions of faith that followed.   In many ways those positive effects continue to this day.  During the aftermath, it was common to hear people speak of faith and divine intervention.

These comments were often made in business settings, where in the past it would have been very unusual to hear such pronouncements.  The comments weren’t in reference to a particular religion or belief system,  but rather references to belief in a supreme being, with expressions of gratitude for his love, protection, comfort and care. 

Another positive of singular note was the selfless sacrifice of those on flight 93, who gave their lives that others might live.  The ultimate sacrifice and evidence of true friendship.  ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’  John 15:13

My employer in 2001, Marsh & McLennan, had 1,908 colleagues based in the twin towers of the World Trade Center.  Miraculously, only 295 perished on 9/11,  an additional 54 victims were vendors, consultants and insurance company reps who were meeting with Marsh colleagues at the time of the attack.  Among the victims were a few dear friends, along with numerous acquaintances and respected colleagues.  I was a frequent visitor to Manhattan during the years before and after the attacks, and I remember the many phone calls from friends and family members confirming that I wasn’t in New York that particular week.  For several days after the attacks there was a constant stream of phone calls and emails as we networked together, confirming who was and who was not in the WTC that morning.  There were stories of loss, and amazing stories of faith and protection.  One good friend was in the lobby waiting for an elevator, fortunately the first elevator was full and while he waited for another, the plane hit the building.  He remained in the area briefly and narrowly escaped when the building came down.   Multitudes of similar stories can be told.   In remembrance, I periodically wear a lapel pin with an image of the flag, the Marsh logo and the inscription, ‘Semper Unitas’ (Always Together), 9/11/2001.

While the image of Marsh has been tarnished in the post Spitzer era, the days following 9/11 were its finest hour.  The firm responded immediately, humanely and generously.   In the 2001 annual report, MMC recorded pre-tax charges of $126 million for costs related directly to 9/11, which were not covered by MMC’s insurance program.  The insurance funded charges were many multiples of the uninsured charges incurred.  A monument to those who were lost stands in the plaza adjacent to the Marsh world headquarters in mid-town Manhattan.  It was my privilege to attend the dedication on September 11, 2003.   Eight years have now past, yet feelings remain tender during this season of the year.

My purpose in writing is not to harrow up memories of tragedy or loss.  I write in remembrance and respect for those who are gone, and more importantly, as a reminder of the transient nature of our lives and relationships, and the importance of living fully in the moment and appreciating and cherishing our families, friends and colleagues.   

Semper Unitas

15th June
2009
written by Sean Noble

Iran is in meltdown.  Iran is the new frontlines of democracy and expanding freedom.

Which is it?  For days after the latest election in which Ahmadinejad claimed victory, the Western press largely ignored the budding protests in Iran.  These protests are essentially demonstrations by what we could call the grassroots of Iran saying that their voices have been stifled by an unfair election process. 

It’s also kind of a big deal that the U.S. is officially not recognizing the election of Ahmdinejad.

Here is a link to a youtube video of thousands of people marching through the streets of Tehran.  Here is a series of photos from flickr.  Amazing stuff.  Can you imagine this happening even ten years ago?

This is a direct result of policies of George W. Bush and his vision of spreading democracy across the world.  You can’t tell me that the protests in Tehran and other parts of Iran aren’t part of a growing freedom movement there.  And this will not be the last time we see these kinds of events in countries that have been less than free.

Hopefully, this will provide some clarity to the Obama administration on foreign policy posturing.

One of the best analysis of the situation in Iran is here, on CBS News, by a friend of mine, Ben Domenech.  Here are some excerpts:

There is only one conflict in Iran today, to paraphrase Viktor Yushchenko — and it is between the regime and the people.

You wouldn’t know that from watching the news channels on TV in America today, or from reading sites like CNN World, featuring lonely wire service stories on what’s going on in Tehran. But news and images streamed in all day from Facebook and Twitter with reports from individuals on the ground — reports of students standing up to the onrushing military and police forces, of rocks and fire and tear gas, and even of clerics protesting the election’s result. Taken together, the scene appears to be the most violent protests in Iran in decades.

Many of these reports are unverified, as everything from within the fog of war tends to be. But the images and videos coming through are not. And Agence France Press has reported that at least ten leaders of two Iranian reformist political groups have been arrested. And throughout the day, access to means of communication were restricted.

***

Unfortunately, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s opponent, Mir Hossein Mousavi, is not exactly the paradigm-shifting reformist the Western press has made him out to be. The reason neoconservatives like Daniel Pipes have professed support for the current president is that Ahmadinejad’s extremist statements exposed the blatant radicalism of the Iranian regime, ruled by Spiritual Leader Ali Hoseini Khameini (the president is merely his flunky in Iran’s system of rule). Even if given the presidency, the reform-minded Mousavi will not have any real impact on nuclear policy or other areas that threaten America’s interests in the Middle East.

Yet this does not make him any less important. At the moment, Mousavi has become a symbolic expression of the disenfranchisement of the populace, his victimhood the fuel for a social uprising that resembles in so many ways the Tiananmen student movement whose anniversary the world marked just days ago. Supreme Leader Khameini has officially endorsed the Ahmedinejad victory, meaning that the revolt going on in Iran at this moment is not a revolt within the system, but against it. Mousavi is no longer just another politician, but he has by his actions become an enemy of the Islamic Republic — a republic in name only — and the protesters today have joined with him in this action. This is not the sort of thing that the ruling authorities will forget or forgive. There will be consequences, and they will almost assuredly be bloody.

Secretary of State Clinton has voiced her concerns about the election result, while the White House reiterated its offers of dialogue with the Iranian regime. It is a strikingly disturbing thought that President Obama would do such a thing, in the wake of the events of the past few days — granting legitimacy to the Mad Hatter of Tehran — but this is obviously his decision. Let us hope someone will call the president’s mind to a higher purpose, to catch hold of a moment when his support for freedom has the potential to have a very real impact.

“Any system is inherently unstable that has no peaceful means to legitimize its leaders. In such cases, the very repressiveness of the state ultimately drives people to resist it, if necessary, by force. While we must be cautious about forcing the pace of change, we must not hesitate to declare our ultimate objectives and to take concrete actions to move toward them. We must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings.”

Ronald Reagan said it nearly 27 years ago. The world needs to say it today.

Solid stuff.

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