How to NOT Ruin Freedom

In the American founding era, most of the leading thinkers were rationalists.

This means that they believed in reason as a top method of determining truth.

Note that the general concept of reason has changed since then.

When most people think of reason today, they tend to mix it with the ideas of logic, science and determinism.

In the American colonial and early republican era, this was not the case.

The term “science” was often used to mean general thinking and the idea of learning, and in this sense it coincided with the rational perspective.

But today’s technical science, based on a general consensus of experts along with the empirical use of the scientific method, is quite the opposite of the rationalist viewpoint.

And logic, which is actually a branch of mathematics (rather than philosophy), is very different than reason.

Reason, in the original sense, is the use of one’s own mind to test and analyze the words of the experts, the ancients, and all authority.

In the founding generation, reason was a check and balance on the smug groupthink[i] of the upper classes and elites.

Most of the leading founders usually used the term “right reason” rather than simple “reason,” since this first phrase carried the connotation that all right-thinking people would come to the same conclusions if they had the benefit of adequate information.

In this view, no king, priest, aristocrat or expert can rely simply on some claim to a “divine right” of expertise to be correct—each individual citizen can test everything said by the elites simply by taking the time to obtain all needed information and then think it through.

Forrest McDonald wrote in the introduction to Empire and Nation, a collection of writings by American founders John Dickinson and Richard Henry Lee:

“In the historical view, men have such rights as they have won over the years; in the rationalist view, men are born with certain rights, whether they are honored in a particular society or not.”

Using reason, leading American founder John Dickinson wrote:

“Ought not the people therefore to watch? to search into causes? to investigate designs? And have they not a right of JUDGING from the evidence before them, on no slighter points than their liberty and happiness?”[ii]

It is always up to the people to maintain their freedom, and one of the first steps is to think—independently as they see fit—regardless of the assurances, promises and statistics of experts and elites.

Throughout history, the experts have nearly always worked for the elites, and the regular people have held reason as their first line of defense.

When the regular people put expertise, tradition, authority or official promises above their own reason, they have always lost their freedoms and prosperity.

Dickinson put it this way:

“Indeed, nations, in general, are not apt to think until they feel; and therefore nations in general have lost their liberty.”[iii]


[i] This word, of course, came into usage after the American founding era.

[ii] Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer, Letter VI.

[iii] Ibid., Letter XI.


odemille Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Two Types of Republicans & Rising Socialism in America

The future of America depends on the House of Representatives.

If it goes along with the Obama Administration’s plans, we’ll see major changes in the next four years, and the move toward socialistic policies will be as momentous as the swing to the right under Ronald Reagan.

The White House and Senate are committed to this course, and only the House stands in the way of a serious socializing of America.

There are two types of Republicans in the House, and as long as they are split the White House will probably keep winning.

On the one hand, the Legislative Republicans believe in government.

They are conservative in the sense that they want the government to make good policy and live within its means, but they believe in government and in passing laws to effect change.

More to the point, the Legislative Republicans are against many of the Administration’s policies, and they believe in stopping the White House agenda by getting involved in the legislation and amending it to make it more conservative.

On the face, this may seem like a good viewpoint.

But these representatives have little support for their amendments. Democrats typically vote against such amendments, and so do the other Republicans.

Because of this, such a strategy routinely fails.

The Legislative Republicans don’t get their amendments passed, so they simply end up splitting the vote and allowing the White House to win.

The second type, the Limited Government Republicans, don’t believe in more legislation.

They want smaller government, major spending cuts and wise fiscal choices concerning entitlements.

They want tax reductions and a balanced budget, because they believe good fiscal policy leads to immediate and lasting improvements in the economy.

The White House wins whenever it splits the votes of these two branches of the GOP.

Legislative Republicans argue that the problem comes from the Small Government Republicans who don’t support amendments to White House proposals, amendments that would make the laws less hurtful to the economy.

These two camps show little likelihood of working together, and as a result the White House agenda keeps passing.

So who are the bad guys?

Those who try to work with the president but slow down his plans, or those who want to stop his agenda in its tracks?

In truth, the Legislative Republicans are living in a fantasy world.

Even if they were to gain the support of all Republicans in the House, they would amend various policies and pass them, only to see the White House bring more and more proposals that would undo the slowing effects of their amendments.

Those in the House who are standing strongly against big government policies are the hope of America.

We need the Legislative Republicans to join them.

It takes three presidential terms to really turn America around.

In third terms, two things happen: 1) policies really take hold, and 2) more Supreme Court appointments come.

For example, Reagan effectively got a third term by putting George Bush into office and continuing many of his main policies.

Clinton wasn’t able to do this because Al Gore lost in the 2000 election.

In the case of Barack Obama, there is a strong sense in the Administration that enough changes need to be made that real change occurs even if a third Democratic term doesn’t come.

President Obama is very popular personally, not so much for his policies but because of his person.

Republicans keep winning in Congress, for example. So the president may not have a third term Democratic follow-up after 2016.

As long as the Republicans are split, the White House can keep pushing its agenda and promote two term’s worth of policies during the next four years.

This seems to be their strategy.

The future of freedom right now depends on the House of Representatives, and it is time for the Legislative Republicans in the House to step back, realize what’s at stake, rethink their stance, and take a more direct stand for freedom.


odemille Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

The Middle Class Squeeze, Part II

Large_BoulderThe working middle class dreams of an actual meritocracy, where performance is rewarded regardless of race, creed, or color.

The American ideals were birthed as a level playing field, rewarding people based upon their contributions, not their social status or credentials.

The American Dream promised: Do a little, receive a little; do a lot, receive a lot – just like my experience in competitive sports.

May the best man or woman or team win, based upon performance.

No class system, no special deals, just an opportunity to win based upon one’s results.

However, this system is not what the power-elites desire.

According to Nathaniel Branden, the late power-elite Bennett Cerf was quoted as saying, “You have to throw welfare programs at people – like throwing meat to a pack of wolves–even if the programs don’t accomplish their alleged purpose and even if they’re morally wrong.”

When Branden asked why, Cerf meekly replied, “Because otherwise they’ll kill you. The masses. They hate intelligence. They’re envious of ability. They resent wealth. You’ve got to throw them something, so they’ll let us live.”

Unfortunately, Cerf’s description is closer to America’s reality than the American Dream of a true meritocracy.

When a modern leader brings up meritocracy, there are nearly always two main reactions.

On one hand is the group who gets excited and thankful, realizing that they have an opportunity to win based upon their own efforts and results.

On the other hand is the group who gets upset and bitter, realizing they will no longer be able to hide from the scoreboard of life, since they will be exposed by their lack of effort and results.

On a personal note, I was involved in community building for 5 1/2 years with little to show for it, but I never blamed anyone else.

In fact, in a true free enterprise environment, a person loses only when he begins blaming someone else for his lack of results.

Refuse to play the blame game.

Instead focus on continuous improvement to win based upon merit.

Who Wants to Play King of the Mountain?

Regardless of the rhetoric of either side, meritocracy is simply the only system that is fair for all people.

Indeed, meritocracy ensures that everyone is given an equal opportunity and playing field.

Imagine playing a game of King of the Mountain where everyone has a right to enter the game and battle their way to the mountaintop.

New participants join the game with the goal of running to the top and knocking off the current King of the Mountain.

This is an analogy of a true free enterprise system.

Anyone can enter and compete, but if you don’t perform, don’t come crying to mommy.

People can enter as individuals or teams, but no group gets a special deal.

The King today may be knocked off tomorrow by better ideas, strategy, and people.

The referee (government) is supposed to be neutral (justice), ensuring everyone plays the games by the rules.

Imagine the travesty that would occur if the current King of the Mountain bought off the referees, forcing all new participants to carry a 50 pound bag on their back (extra regulations).

Even if the King has to carry the bag also, it’s much easier to be on top with 50 pounds than to run up a mountain side with it.

The more government rigs the game, the less free enterprise flourishes and the more a class society results.

Western Civilization is at a crossroads because Big Banks and Big Business do not like to lose and believe they are “too big to fail.”

They have rigged the game to ensure that the “idle rich” stay on top, while the rest of us run around wondering why no one seems to knock Kings of the Mountain anymore.

Big Government must stop playing the biased referee and return to the neutral umpire that it’s supposed to be.

Either this will change, or the West, as we know it, will die.

Vacancies on New Mountains Only

One might be wondering how Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. made it to the top of the mountain.

In truth, nearly all of the new big league entrepreneurs made it to the top of new mountains without pre-established hierarchies of bureaucratic corporations already on the mountaintop.

In other words, since most of the old mountains are now closed by the unethical partnership of Big Business and Big Government, the only opportunities for hungry entrepreneurs are to innovate into the new fields where the mountaintops are still vacant.

Innovation and competition is fantastic on the new mountains, but imagine how much more innovation would occur if Western Society opened up all its mountaintops, like a true free enterprise system should and competitive sports does?

For example, can one see how perturbed the established energy companies would be if some crazy innovator developed a way to convert water into workable energy?

Do you think the established order would support the new innovator or attempt to quash his or her ideas because trillions of dollars are on the line?

Regretfully, squashing the new entrepreneur is too frequently the modus operandi in Western economics.

Everyone in society, except the few with the special deals, are hurt by the current state of affairs.

Simply put, without entrepreneurial innovation, an economy stagnates and declines; freedom is a prerequisite for entrepreneurial innovation.

Challenge and Response

What if leadership communities, groups of people who educate themselves and others on historic leadership and liberty principles, joined together and formed free communities for real change?

In my book, RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE, I talk about Arnold Toynbee and his thesis of “Challenge and Response.”

We are going through one of these critical periods where the West has serious challenges to respond to and it takes leaders to respond.

Throughout the history of the West, citizen leaders have stood up to tyranny whenever the need arose to right the wrongs.

Today’s issues demand courageous leaders who will respond similarly, standing up and fixing them, doing what is right because it is right.

In 1979, Henry Ford II, in a Chicago Business School Conference, shared,

“I sometimes suspect that many American capitalists actually distrust the market as much as capitalism’s enemies do. There are whole industries today that prefer to escape the market’s disciplines. Such businessmen only encourage those who seek reform through the government, who seek greater regulation of business and greater governmental control over the private sector. But solutions like those are alien to our national experience, and American capitalism has a duty to fight them.”

See the challenge?

Even the industrial icons recognize the problem.

Is America finally ready to respond?

Isn’t it time for a LeaderShift?


orrinwoodward 150x182 custom Leaders Break the Cycle of Learned HelplessnessOrrin Woodward co-authored the New York Times bestseller Launching a Leadership Revolution. His first solo book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books List. Orrin was awarded as the 2011 IAB Leader of the Year.

Orrin has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies and serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE Business. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

He follows the sun between residences in Michigan and Florida with his lovely wife Laurie and their children. Orrin’s leadership thoughts are shared on his blog –

The Middle Class Squeeze, Part I

squeezeIn a 2011 article, reporter Stephen Marche pinpointed the painful paradigm of today’s middle class:

“There are some truths so hard to face, so ugly and so at odds with how we imagine the world should be, that nobody can accept them. Here’s one: It is obvious that a class system has arrived in America — a recent study of the thirty-four countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that only Italy and Great Britain have less social mobility. But nobody wants to admit: If your daddy was rich, you’re gonna stay rich, and if your daddy was poor, you’re gonna stay poor. Every instinct in the American gut, every institution, every national symbol, runs on the idea that anybody can make it; the only limits are your own limits. Which is an amazing idea, a gift to the world — just no longer true. Culturally, and in their daily lives, Americans continue to glide through a ghostly land of opportunity they can’t bear to tell themselves isn’t real. It’s the most dangerous lie the country tells itself.”

Everywhere I look, I am exposed to this bitter reality. The middle-class is experiencing a big squeeze.

On one side of the squeeze are the aristocratic elites. They have created special-deal monopolies (which raise the prices for all consumers), courtesy of government’s monopoly of force.

These “idle rich” enjoy a non-competitive life of leisure because they are allegedly “too big to fail.”

Since there aren’t any free rides in life, the perks provided by the government are paid for by the middle class through higher prices and reduced opportunities to advance. However, in order to maintain the special deals for the “idle rich,” the government must cultivate the support of another segment of the populace who approve of the unequal state of affairs.

The “Idle Poor”

Hence the government has created a new class of people – the “idle poor.” This group does NOT mean anyone who is out of work, but still looking.

Unfortunately, the government squeeze has left many hard-working people in this condition.

The “idle poor,” in contrast, have surrendered the very idea of personal responsibility and demand government support for their idle lifestyles.

They aren’t looking for work, they just expect the government to keep taking care of them.

The government creates and funds the “idle poor” to buy their votes as an insurance policy against the plundered middle class.

In this way, the “idle rich” are protected against the backlash of the middle class at the voting booth.

Meanwhile, the middle class surrenders its vast majority by splitting into meaningless parties (Democrat and Republican), that only ensure the “idle rich” rule with the bought-off “idle poor.”

In consequence, the middle class has forged its own fetters of economic plunder.

If the middle class were united against the idle rich, they would easily run the nation. But the middle class is split between Democrat and Republican—allowing the idle rich to stay in charge.

The poor are treated as “too small to win,” so the idle rich can continue to be “too big to fail.”

This is an unethical and ultimately immoral philosophy of life. Indeed, the poor, under freedom, can win in the game of life and the rich, in a similar state, can fail.

That, in a nutshell, is free enterprise.

Regrettably, however, we seldom follow this arrangement.

The politicians (of both the left and right persuasion) promise handouts to enough groups until they have enough votes for re-election, thereby continuing the middle class squeeze.

First, the idle rich bilk the middle class with monopoly positions protected by government politicians elected by the wealthy elite’s money.

Second, the idle poor squeeze the middle, receiving handouts courtesy of government taxes taken from the middle class.

Both idle classes receive benefits without effort.

In the meantime, the middle class runs faster and faster on the gerbil wheel, never seeming to get ahead.

What happened to Free Enterprise?

Please don’t misunderstand the point. I have nothing against wealth rightly earned, but the current crony-capitalism in the West is definitely NOT a free or just enterprise.

In fact, the worst result of the Middle Class Squeeze is the decline of the small business entrepreneur—the life blood of any healthy economy.

Indeed, in America, small business owners create 75% of all new jobs.

Why then, is government hounding this group out of existence though excessive taxation, regulation, and vituperation?

According to author Paul Sarvadi,

“By themselves, the goods, services and technology produced by American small businesses make up the world’s third-largest economy, after the United States and Japan.”

Entrepreneurs, in other words, created the economic miracle in America and if government continues its Middle Class Squeeze, the death of the entrepreneur will be the end of America’s economy as we know it.

William Sumner said it best in his classic essay on the forgotten man:

“All history is only one long story to this effect: men have struggled for power over their fellow-men in order that they might win the joys of earth at the expense of others and might shift the burdens of life from their shoulders upon those of others…

“But what folly to think that vice and passion are limited by classes, that liberty consists only in taking power away from noble and priest and giving it to artisans and peasants…They will abuse it just as all others have done unless they are put under checks…”

In other words, all classes of people will attempt to oppress others if given an opportunity, which is why justice demands justice for everyone.

If any group is oppressed, eventually all groups will be oppressed by the same power.

This is a historical fact and why Oliver DeMille and I wrote LeaderShift — to offer a realistic way out of the increasing political plunder and oppression of our time.

Will Durant wrote:

“Violent revolutions do not so much redistribute wealth as destroy it. There may be a redivision of the land, but the natural inequality of man soon recreates an inequality of possessions and privileges, and raises to power a new minority with essentially the same instincts as the old.”

Restoring the Entrepreneurial Dream

Call me crazy if you wish, but I truly believe that the middle class can restore justice and freedom by uniting together to restore the American dream.

For the American dream to be real, entrepreneurs must be able to rise through the ranks from nobodies to somebodies.

For instance, love him or hate him, Bill Gates is a classic example of a small business owner who made it big.

The Harvard drop out said in a recent interview: “When we got up to thirty employees, it was still just me, a secretary, and twenty-eight programmers. I wrote all the checks, answered the mail, took the phone calls.”

Entrepreneurs, who dream of making it big, must work think, work, and take risk to achieve their dreams.

The entrepreneurial mindset includes something that is more rarely found today—someone who will use his freedoms to accept responsibility and get the task done.

In truth, the West needs a resurgence of freedom and entrepreneurship to end the middle class squeeze and stop protecting the “idle” classes on both ends of the spectrum.


orrinwoodward 150x182 custom Leaders Break the Cycle of Learned HelplessnessOrrin Woodward co-authored the New York Times bestseller Launching a Leadership Revolution. His first solo book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books List. Orrin was awarded as the 2011 IAB Leader of the Year.

Orrin has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies and serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE Business. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

He follows the sun between residences in Michigan and Florida with his lovely wife Laurie and their children. Orrin’s leadership thoughts are shared on his blog –

The Drift to Totalitarianism

Earlier today, while writing on my corporate HR Toolbox blog, I read an extended quote from Gustav Cassel.

His thoughts on the drift towards totalitarianism that every country experiences with the initiation of economic controls aligned perfectly with the Five Laws of Decline (FLD), which I first disclosed in my book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE.

Indeed, every single human society has ultimately failed due to the unchecked effects of the FLD.

The question of the century is: Will America follow in their footsteps by not addressing the debilitating effects of the FLD at work?

LeaderShift, soon to be released by Hachette’s Business Plus division, is a business fable co-written with Oliver DeMille that teaches how to check the Five Laws of Decline by limiting government power and centralization.

Any concerned citizen ought to study and learn how to check the FLD since they have been responsible for the decline in all human civilizations. This is what the LIFE business is: a community of concerned citizens. Here are several dictums of government from LeaderShift followed by Cassel’s extended quote.


Orrin Woodward

1.Government power must be checked by other powers, i.e., federal powers are checked by states, which are checked by localities.

2. Government taxation must be limited, or limited government is illusory.

3. Local leadership should solve local issues since local leaders are “boots on the ground” and have the most knowledge of the challenges and potential solutions.

4. Political leaders must learn how to balance budgets, or they are not leaders at all.

The most powerful brief statement of this interaction with which I am acquainted occurs in a lecture delivered by the eminent Swedish economist, the late Gustav Cassel.

This was published in a pamphlet with the descriptive but rather cumbersome title: From Protectionism Through Planned Economy to Dictatorship.[1]

I take the liberty of quoting an extensive passage from it:

The leadership of the state in economic affairs which advocates of Planned Economy want to establish is, as we have seen, necessarily connected with a bewildering mass of governmental interferences of a steadily cumulative nature.

The arbitrariness, the mistakes and the inevitable contradictions of such policy will, as daily experience shows, only strengthen the demand for a more rational coordination of the different measures and, therefore, for unified leadership.

For this reason Planned Economy will always tend to develop into Dictatorship.…

The existence of some sort of parliament is no guarantee against planned economy being developed into dictatorship.

On the contrary, experience has shown that representative bodies are unable to fulfill all the multitudinous functions connected with economic leadership without becoming more and more involved in the struggle between competing interests, with the consequence of a moral decay ending in party — if not individual — corruption.

Examples of such a degrading development are indeed in many countries accumulating at such a speed as must fill every honorable citizen with the gravest apprehensions as to the future of the representative system.

But apart from that, this system cannot possibly be preserved, if parliaments are constantly over-worked by having to consider an infinite mass of the most intricate questions relating to private economy.

The parliamentary system can be saved only by wise and deliberate restriction of the functions of parliaments.…

Economic dictatorship is much more dangerous than people believe.

Once authoritative control has been established it will not always be possible to limit it to the economic domain.

If we allow economic freedom and self-reliance to be destroyed, the powers standing for Liberty will have lost so much in strength that they will not be able to offer any effective resistance against a progressive extension of such destruction to constitutional and public life generally.

And if this resistance is gradually given up—perhaps without people ever realizing what is actually going on—such fundamental values as personal liberty, freedom of thought and speech and independence of science are exposed to imminent danger.

What stands to be lost is nothing less than the whole of that civilization that we have inherited from generations which once fought hard to lay its foundations and even gave their life for it.



orrinwoodward 150x182 custom Leaders Break the Cycle of Learned HelplessnessOrrin Woodward co-authored the New York Times bestseller Launching a Leadership Revolution. His first solo book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books List. Orrin was awarded as the 2011 IAB Leader of the Year.

Orrin has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies and serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE Business. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

He follows the sun between residences in Michigan and Florida with his lovely wife Laurie and their children. Orrin’s leadership thoughts are shared on his blog –

Separation of Education and State

publicschoolsPeeling away the layers of rhetoric from reality in our Public School System, one discovers an interesting paradox; even though Americans enthusiastically support the Separation of Church & State, strangely, they do not feel the same vigor for Separation of Education & State.

What are the real differences between religion and education?

By lifting the veil, looking underneath the shiny veneer, both reveal underlying presuppositions that are unprovable, making them more a matter of faith rather than science, requiring belief in doctrines that cannot empirically be proven true or false.

The administrators (High Priests) of both genres feed the faithful accepted doctrines, brooking no resistance to the approved creeds.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not against organized religion nor organized education, the more of both the better, as far as I am concerned, for man and society.

Everything in life boils down to faith when you track back to first principles, since it deals with world-views and beliefs. My question to the State School Board or, if I may be so bold, the Priests of Education, is why, during the founding of America, was it so important to ensure the State never crossed into the religious sphere, protecting the people against a powerful centralized State Church, even going so far as to make it one of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights?

The government wouldn’t consider creating a State Church, requiring mandatory attendance every Sunday, teaching State Doctrines at State Churches in every neighborhood; but we yield to our government the same level of control, requiring mandatory attendance, not on Sundays, but Monday through Fridays, educating all adolescents in State Doctrines at State Schools (Churches).

When State centralized education requires mandatory attendance of children at State School schools, teaching doctrines much like churches teach creeds, reaching into every home, I get a bit concerned.

The only options for parents, other than surrendering to tyranny, are to quit the public school system entirely, while still supporting them with their local taxes.

This doesn’t sound like freedom to me.

As I see it, religious doctrines and educational doctrines are merely different sides of the same coin.

Just as theories abound, teaching various religious creeds, suggesting the proper methods and principles to worship God, so too, theories abound teaching various educational creeds, suggesting the proper methods and principles to teach a child.

Yet, somehow, we believe an omniscient State will select just the right creeds for our child, regardless of his or her circumstances, ignoring our child’s family life, religious principles, or career aspirations.

Now I am a reasonable person, certainly willing to hear all rational discussions on the subject, but something strikes me as disingenuous, separating a man’s religious beliefs so completely from his educational beliefs.

To use just one example, suppose a young man was taught in the home or church, that God made men and women for each other, under the sacrament of marriage.

He might have a hard time swallowing any contrary doctrine, offered up in our State Schools.

Now before you bash me as a sexist, gender hater, etc, please hear my point, the point is, shouldn’t the same freedoms that apply to religion apply when referring to education?

Regardless of the specific doctrines one believes in, a higher doctrine ought to be the freedom to choose, since America is famous for being the “land of freedom.”

No one should be forced to endure an indoctrination against his will nor forced to submit his children to the same treatment.

If parents choose to send their children to another school, aligning better with their personal beliefs, they ought to have that right, transferring their tax dollars to the school of choice, instead of paying more.

I believe in freedom of choice so much, that I would fight for your right to disagree with my beliefs, choosing to send your children to another school; the school of your choice.

Freedom ensures that we all get the education for our children that we desire, not what the State desires.

Free discussion and free choices makes us all better, that’s what makes America great.

Thomas Jefferson, one of the earliest and strongest proponents of religious freedoms, shared these principles with his fellow Virginia delegates, arguing that it’s unjust to charge Presbyterians, Baptist, Congregationalist, etc, to support the Virginia Anglican State Church.

For example, if a Baptist moved to Virginia, he was required to pay a tax to support the Anglican church even though he didn’t attend nor believe the Anglican creeds.

Liberty loving Virginians could see the justice in Mr. Jefferson’s views and repealed the mandatory tax supporting the Virginia State Church.

The Separation of Church & State became a foundational plank in Virginia, eventually finding its way into the Constitution through the Bill of Rights, inspiring millions to come to America to enjoy religious freedom.

An interesting aside is George Washington’s thoughts on the Separation of Church & State, believing that churches built character through faith and creeds, Washington was hesitant to see churches not funded by public taxes; therefore, he proposed to tax all citizens, but give them a choice of which church to support.

Mr. Washington proposed a voucher program for religion, giving freedom of choice while ensuring that churches thrived to build character in the people for the benefit of society.

No, I’m not proposing launching church vouchers, invoking the name of the great George Washington to bolster my position.

I believe keeping government out of local churches, the true meaning of Separation of Church & State, has been a blessing, allowing each church to serve their God and congregations as they please, not requiring, nor asking for, government handouts.

My aside on Washington was merely to point out how important freedom of choice was to our Founding Fathers, a freedom sadly missing from our current Public School System.

How many millions of children over the years, having conflicting beliefs with the High Priest of Education, went to private schools by the free choice of the parents, paying a tuition for private school on one hand, while still being taxed by the State School on the other hand.

But let’s not forget the recent phenomena, if not outright revolution, called Home Schooling.

Over the last thirty years or so, millions of children have been home schooled, a challenging endeavor, where parents choose to educate their children, receiving no pay, giving of their time and money in a labor of love, but still suffering from the tax load of a State School they are no longer employing.

A young Thomas Jefferson, when faced with a similar situation in 18th century Virginia, confronted by the injustice of forcing parishioner of other sects to pay for a church they didn’t attend, loved freedom enough to do something about it.

Maybe George Washington’s idea, if converted from religion to education has merit.

School vouchers, a plan where each parent is given a voucher from the State to spend at the school of their choice, would solve the Separation of Education & State issue.

Giving each parent a voucher, allowing each family to choose the school that best fits their needs, brings free enterprise and decentralization to the school system.

The school options will increase and conflicts over doctrines will decrease by allowing parents to choose an education that marries with their religious beliefs and student’s career choices.

Perhaps America, that beacon of light, though flickering a bit of late, will remember its great heritage, standing against injustices, even if it doesn’t directly affect them; because tyranny, when given a chance to seed in society’s soil, sinks it roots deeply, consuming everything in its path.

I purposely kept this discussion at fifty thousand feet, not diving into the details of our State School System, not that there isn’t plenty to say, but only because I didn’t want to take away from my main message.

Few will argue that our State Schools are not broken, throwing more money at State Schools seems to be the only solution bantered about.

I have learned over the years that, if the riverbed is wrong, pouring more water in the river isn’t the answer. Until we start working on the foundation, the riverbed, nothing is going to change.

The riverbed change, in my opinion, is Separation of Education & State.

Of course, the State System is failing, because the State is involved in an area that is shouldn’t be. Can you name any government program designed to serve the public that hasn’t failed miserably?

It’s not the teachers, nor the students, but the entire system based upon centralized control that must be rooted out.

Thomas Jefferson understood this, which is why he decentralized religion from government, making a riverbed change; we need modern day Jeffersons to decentralize schooling from government, making another riverbed change.

I believe firmly that a free enterprise school system, where parents vote with their vouchers, rewarding excellence while punishing incompetence as all customers do in free enterprise, will build a world class educational system that can compete in today’s “flat world.”

The key is for free people to make free choices.

As over time, free people making free choices will always thrive over tyrannized people following State bureaucrats.

Perhaps a Jefferson will step up, creating a Separation of Education & State as Thomas Jefferson created a Separation of Religion & State.


orrinwoodward 150x182 custom Leaders Break the Cycle of Learned HelplessnessOrrin Woodward co-authored the New York Times bestseller Launching a Leadership Revolution. His first solo book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books List. Orrin was awarded as the 2011 IAB Leader of the Year.

Orrin has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies and serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE Business. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

He follows the sun between residences in Michigan and Florida with his lovely wife Laurie and their children. Orrin’s leadership thoughts are shared on his blog –

Why We Need a Third Party

In the aftermath of the 2012 election, there have been numerous emails, posts, articles and blogs by business owners who say they are planning to sell or close their businesses, or just lay off enough workers that they can afford Obamacare for the employees who remain.

One summary listed the following announced layoffs—all attempts to deal with the new costs of Obamacare:

  • Welch Allyn, 275 layoffs
  • Stryker, 1170 layoffs
  • Boston Scientific, between 1200 and 1400 layoffs
  • Medtronic, 1000 layoffs
  • Smith and Nephew, 770 layoffs
  • Hill Rom, 200 layoffs
  • Kinetic Concepts, 427 layoffs
  • Coviden, 595 layoffs
  • Abbot Labs, 427 layoffs
  • St. June Medical, 300 layoffs

There are many, many others.

One email dated November 7, the day after the election, read:

“Time to sell our business. We can no longer afford to provide a living for 14 employees as soon we’re forced to pay for their healthcare. So sad, too bad. On to new ventures.”

After responses about how sad this is and others pointedly blaming the Obama Administration, the same person continued:

“We are all Americans and need to find common ground and make this country great together. I’m not mad at anyone for voting different than me. They love their president, don’t lose friends over calling him a dictator. I’m excited to sell our business. We are adventurous!”

That’s the entrepreneurial spirit that made America great.

Not: “Oh no, we’re losing our job. Will the government help us?”

But rather: “Hey, change happens. We’re excited. This is going to be an adventure!”

That’s the American spirit.

And while rumors abound about how much Obamacare will cost each small business and which won’t have to make any changes at all, there are a lot of employers right now who are very concerned.

Those with under 50 employees aren’t supposed to be hurt, but smaller employers are still worried about exactly how the new laws will be enforced.

Sadly, we will likely see a lot of change in small business in the months and years just ahead.

More regulation, higher taxes and drastically increased costs of employing people will make things more difficult.

An exception may be in network marketing companies or compensated communities.

I’ve long considered them among the top entrepreneurial opportunities in free nations, and with the current changes and policies this is even more true.

“My son is a doctor,” Marge said proudly.

“Wow,” Betty said with a concerned voice. “How is your son dealing with the new regulations coming into effect under Obamacare?” she asked.

Marge nodded and her face grew serious. “He’s very concerned, to tell the truth.”

“Fortunately, my son is building a huge network marketing company, and the regulations aren’t hurting him much,” Betty said. “Maybe your son would like to meet with mine about an opportunity?”

This kind of conversation is taking place a lot right now, and all indications are that it will increase.

Some parents are recommending that their college children put school on hold and start a network business, and I know two medical doctors who have gotten out of the profession in order to build networking businesses.

One of them talked two of his sons into quitting college and doing the same, though the three of them all ended up building networking organizations with entirely different companies.

II. The Party of Small Business

All of this got me thinking today, and as I pondered I realized something. Something big.

Something we really need right now in America.

We need a third party.

Actually, we need a new party that becomes more popular than the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.

There are more independents than members of either big party, so this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

Here’s the problem: The Democratic Party is now the unabashed party of big government, the welfare state, rule from Washington D.C., and everything that goes with these values.

The Republican Party touts itself as the party of freedom, limited government, free markets and business, but in fact it is the party of big business and a big-spending government at the same or just slightly lower levels than Democrats.

We have a party of Big Government (with big business as its co-pilot), and another party that emphasizes Big Business (with big government as its co-pilot).

The first is the Democratic Party, the second the GOP.

Neither is now effectively serving the needs of our nation.

As a result, we get bigger government regardless of who gets elected, and big business grows (to the frequent detriment of small businesses) regardless of who is in power in Washington.

In all of this, small businesses, families, communities and the middle class are the losers.

The solution? We need a party of small business.

We need a party whose top priority is the needs of families and small businesses.

This new party needs to reject the big-government and anti-free enterprise values of the Democrats and simultaneously the big-business and anti-immigrant attitudes of Republicans.

It needs to embrace toleration, diversity, reduced government regulations, lower taxes, decreased government spending, incentives for entrepreneurship, a charitable safety net, and incentives for more immigrants to bring their capital, businesses, labor and families to America.

It needs to get rid of the barriers to hiring (such as the increasing required health care costs) and drastically reduce government red tape for small businesses.

It needs to allow more innovation, shrink requirements on licenses and permits and other unnecessary costs that decrease entrepreneurship and growth, and create an environment of seamless partnerships between schools and businesses.

It needs to promote, encourage and incentive a lot more initiative, innovation and entrepreneurialism.

It also needs to push for more creative and independent thinking in the schools and less that is rote, conveyor-belt, and pre-scripted.

It should change the way schools are run, replacing an environment where administrators and bureaucrats feel comfortable to one led by proven innovators and others who have been successful in the real economy, the FOR-profit economy.

Forget teacher certification and unions—if we want to compete in the global economy we need innovators leading our classrooms.

As an example, principals and teachers should be hired who have excelled at implementing successful business plans rather than writing resumes.

And funding should flow to schools that excel in a true free market.

To ensure to that no child is left behind (for example in less-advantaged neighborhoods), even larger premiums should go to innovators who successfully turn dumpy schools into flourishing institutions whose graduates thrive.

The new party should apply similar principles to other kinds of organizations, from health care and community governments to every other sector of the economy.

Small businesses bring the large majority of growth in the economy, and the new party needs to begin with the specific needs of small businesses in mind.

It needs to identify things that hurt small business and repeal them, and find out what helps small businesses succeed and introduce more policies that encourage these things.

It needs to rewrite the commercial and legal code to create an environment where innovation is the norm, along with the values of growth, calculated risk, leadership, creativity, and entrepreneurialism.

It needs to be not the party of jobs, but the party of successful business ownership—and the jobs they naturally create.


III. A Bright Future?

We need a third party. The party of Big Government (with big business as co-pilot) and the party of Big Business (with big government as co-pilot) simply aren’t doing what our nation needs anymore.

It’s time for new thinking and new leadership.

There is an old saying that you can’t pour new wine into old bottles, because the residue of past wine always taints the new.

This is where we are in America.

The current parties, as much good as both have done at times, have peaked and are in decline.

New leadership is needed, along new values untainted by the baggage of two parties whose time has come and gone.

It is perhaps possible to reform one of the parties to get better results, but it is likely that only a new party with an entirely new focus and fresh thinking is going to take America where it needs to go.

Democratic nations are notorious for refusing to change until crisis forces their hand, and I suspect this is what we’ll witness in the 21st Century.

At some point, probably after major crisis and a superhuman American response, we’re going to need a new party.

Those who love freedom should start thinking about what it should look like.

One thing is clear: When it does come, it needs to be a party of small business.

Free enterprise and the entrepreneurial spirit made America great, and it will do so again if we let it.

Whatever comes in the economy, we want to be led by those whose attitude is, “It might sound bad, but this is an exciting adventure! Let’s get started…”


odemille Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Covenant Government and the Sacred Trust of Freedom

A friend recently told me that he considers family relationships much more important than politics.

He said marriage is a sacred, covenant relationship, and as such it is a higher priority than civil government.

I had two responses to this thought: First, I totally agree.

I think our families are a sacred trust and take a higher priority than pretty much anything—except our personal relationship with, and allegiance to, God.

Second, I wonder if our modern understanding of government has devolved so far from the time of the American founding that we don’t consider government a covenant or holding political office a sacred trust.

In fairness to my friend, he is a lover of freedom who cares deeply about our nation and the decline of liberty.

He is among the most dedicated students of freedom I know.

Lecturing him on anything related to freedom would certainly be preaching to the choir, and he certainly sees political leadership as a sacred trust.

But his words made me think.

Ideal government is a covenant, and was understood as such by the Israelites because of the teachings of Moses.

It was passed down over the generations and eventually became known as “The Divine Right of Kings”.

John Locke’s political treatises addressed the reality that such a divine right of any legitimate king was long lost by the time of the British monarchs.

The American founders discussed this concept at length, and the words “covenant,” “sacred,” and “trust” were widely used in connection with government.

A search for “covenant politics” in various founding writings and modern political journals will yield many interesting articles.

The word “covenant” is still used in our time—based on the legal tradition of Blackstone –in nearly every state and province of the United States and Canada in the common CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions).

In Anglo-Franco-American law, a “covenant” was originally a specific kind of contract where both parties promise to do something for the other, and the contract is binding on both parties, even if one of the parties fails to perform or defaults.

Thus, there are fundamentally two kinds of contracts in law: Absolute and Conditional.

Conditional arrangements make up over 99% of contracts, where if the other side defaults the contract is void for both parties.

But the oaths of government officials are of the Absolute variety.

The founders made government service a covenant, rather than a simple contractual, arrangement.

Regardless of whether or not the people fulfill their duties, government officials are expected to do theirs—as expressed in their oaths of office.

The law also differentiates between “express” and “implied” covenants—“express” being those that are clearly written out, and “implied” being those that should be assumed by any reasonable standard of duty.

Jefferson used this concept when he sent American troops to protect U.S. citizens against the Barbary Coast pirates without any Congressional declaration of war.

He openly admitted that he had no “express” constitutional authority to take the action, but that the responsibility of presidency gave him an implied duty to protect those he served.

He followed the same line of reasoning when he signed the Louisiana Purchase.

The difference between him and some modern presidents who have taken seemingly similar actions is that he openly admitted that he had no authority, but had acted solely on his sense of duty, and he would not have blamed Congress for impeaching him as a legitimate response.

He acted according to what he considered his implied covenant duty and was willing to accept the consequences for exceeding his constitutional authority.

This clearly established the importance of covenant in governance.

Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison all followed the same course at different times when the chief executive had a duty to protect the national security of the U.S., and the Doctrine of National Preservation was a duty to which they were willing to sacrifice themselves on behalf of the nation.

In these cases Congress refused to exercise their check, impeachment, because they believed the leader had lived up to his Constitutional Oath to guard and “protect the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.”

The law, again based on Blackstone and English legal tradition, also differentiates between “inherent” and “collateral” covenants.

An “inherent” covenant is the cause of any and all fiduciary responsibilities –meaning, a responsibility that a person takes upon himself automatically by entering into a covenant relationship.

In contrast, “collateral” covenants must be clearly stipulated and understood by all parties involved.

There is a lot more of this, but I won’t bore you with all the details, like: Joint versus Several covenants, Principal versus Auxiliary covenants, Continuing versus Dated covenants, Full versus Partial covenants, Restrictive versus Universal covenants, Usual versus Special covenants, and about 10 others that are foundational in Anglo-Franco-American legal traditions.

One that I should mention is Transitive versus Intransitive covenants.

“Transitive” consists of those which pass the duty on to the covenanter’s agents, successors, and in some cases, posterity.

This is important because it shows why some people might argue that the governance covenant may be as important as the marriage covenant.

Obviously, a covenant is a covenant, a supreme promise, so ranking them by importance is a bit ridiculous.

That said, the marriage covenant is intransitive, meaning that my spouse and I are both bound by it, but when I die, my children don’t become her spouse.

If I held a hereditary government position, such as the anointed kings of old, however, upon my death my oath and covenant of good governance would pass with full responsibilities and duties to my heirs.

Government is a covenant, or at least good, free government is.

Under the U.S. constitutional model, positions requiring an oath are transitive; for example, when a president dies or becomes incapacitated, the responsibilities inherent in the oath of vice-president devolve all presidential duties upon him.

He must receive his full authority by collateral covenant and take an official oath; but if there is a gap between when the president dies and when the oath is taken, he has the full responsibility of the office by covenant.

(Note: Responsibilities, but not authority.)

Again, this is repeated in most military and other government positions that require an oath of office.

There are really only 3 types of government:

1) government by fiat, where the strongest take power by force and rule by might;

2) government by contract, where the government serves as a mercenary, responding to the highest bidder in order to obtain a profit for government officials;

and 3) government by covenant, where the constituents delegate authority tied to responsibility and the leaders put their responsibilities above their authority.

I believe that the marriage covenant is the most important agreement in all of society, second only to our promises to God.

And, in fact, the marriage covenant often included promises to a spouse, society and God.

Marriage has huge ramifications on all facets of society, including law and politics but extending much further.

But let’s not forget that good government is also a covenant.

It isn’t a mere contract, where if the people shirk their duties the officials may simply ignore the Constitution, or where if the officials are corrupt the people can just give up and let freedom wane.

We all have a responsibility to maintain freedom, and this obligation is transitive, meaning that it is our solemn duty to pass on as much, or more, freedom to our posterity as we inherited from our ancestors.

This is, in fact, a sacred trust.

Perhaps Calvin Coolidge said it best when he declared, as the President of the United States, that, “The protection of rights is righteous.”

If this is true, and it is, what would we call the act of destroying rights or of allowing them to be lost through distraction or neglect?

Such questions are extremely relevant right now in modern America.


odemille Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

Jonathan Edwards: Resolved to Serve with Humility

Jonathan-EdwardsJonathan Edwards was a preacher, theologian, a missionary to Native Americans, and shortly before his death, accepted the Presidency of the College of New Jersey (Princeton University).

Edwards “is widely acknowledged to be America’s most important and original philosophical theologian.”

Furthermore, Author George Marsden, writes,

“Edwards was extraordinary. By many estimates, he was the most acute early American philosopher and the most brilliant of all American theologians.At least three of his many works – Religious Affections, Freedom of the Will, and The Nature of True Virtue – stand as masterpieces in the larger history of Christian literature.”

But Edwards began his ministry with little advanced billing.

His first pastoral position in 1722, at 19 years of age, was far away from his Connecticut hometown, in New York City, then a thriving metropolis of 10,000 people.

Dr. Stephen Nichols, author of The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards, writes of the young pastor,

“Amidst all of this uncertainty and flux, this young man, Jonathan Edwards, needed both a place to stand and a compass for some direction. So he took to writing. He kept a diary and he penned some guidelines, which he came to call his ‘Resolutions.’ These resolutions would supply both that place for him to stand and a compass to guide him as he made his way.”

A.C. McGiffert described Edward’s method of resolutions, “Deliberately he set about to temper his character into steel.”

Tempering is a process to “toughen” the metals, just as written resolutions “toughen” the internal person through study and course corrections.

The tempering process takes time, but the internal fortitude and self-mastery gained living one’s convictions, not one’s preferences, is worth any price.

Jonathan Edwards dutifully wrote out 70 Resolutions (see appendix) between 1722 and 1723.

Edwards committed to read the 70 Resolutions once per week for the rest of his life, and fulfilled that commitment, reading the resolutions more than 1,800 times over the next 35 years.

Here are two of his resolutions.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this resolution.

Edwards would have many occasions to apply his resolutions.

After his pastoral service in New York, on February 15, 1727, Edwards joined his father-in-law, Solomon Stoddard’s congregation in Northampton, Massachusetts.

In 1729, Stoddard died, leaving Edwards the sole minister in charge of one of the largest, wealthiest and proudest congregations in the colony.

Stoddard, in his later years, had introduced several doctrinal changes not founded upon scriptures.

Edwards, being new, continued the innovations when he assumed pastoral leadership.

But, in 1749, after years of successful ministry and intensive biblical study, Edward’s conscience balked at the doctrinal errors, precipitating an angry response from church members.

The controversy concluded with Edward’s dismissal by the margin of one vote.

Many would have railed against the injustice, but Edwards, dignified as always, preached his farewell sermon with the truth, love and grace, exiting Northampton without rancor or bitterness.

Edwards was, as Randall Stewart wrote, “Not only the greatest of all American theologians and philosophers but the greatest of our pre-19th century writers as well,” making his gracious humble spirit even more impressive.

He didn’t fight for his rights; instead he merely accepted the ruling as God’s Will, taking a position as missionary to the frontier Indians.

Edwards consistently displayed a grace-filled spirit of forgiveness to his many detractors, some who, years later apologized for their involvement in the misinformation spread.

Can one imagine the infamy of being associated with the congregation that dismissed one of the best theologians and philosophers in American history?

But Edwards, in his final years, never missed a beat, writing several classics of Christian literature, leaving an enduring testament to the power of character-based resolutions to transform a person from the inside out.

Edwards faithfully lived his principles externally because that is who he had become internally.

Specifically, he didn’t just give lip service to his resolutions, he truly lived them.


Orrin Woodward is the co-founder of TEAM, a leadership development and training company, and the New York Times best-selling co-author of Launching a Leadership Revolution.

Named by the International Association of Business as a Top 10 Leadership Guru, he is dedicated to building leaders and entrepreneurs and promoting freedom and prosperity.

Orrin blogs regularly at Orrin Woodward. He lives in Port St. Lucie, Florida with his wife and four children.

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George Washington: Resolved for Character

By nature, young Washington had a fiery temper, but he developed an iron-willed discipline in order to check its excesses.

Richard Norton Smith, in his book, Patriarch, said,

“The adolescent Washington examined Seneca’s dialogues and laboriously copied from a London magazine one hundred and ten ‘rules of civility’ intended to buff a rude country boy into at least the first draft of a gentleman”.

The French Jesuits had originally developed the 110 Rules as principles to live by, and Washington’s methodical writing process helped him to adopt many of these maxims as his personal resolutions for life.

As Richard Brookhiser, author of Founding Father, wrote,

“His manner and his morals kept his temperament under control. His commitment to ideas gave him guidance.

Washington’s relation to ideas has been underestimated by almost everyone who wrote of him or knew him, and modern education has encouraged this neglect. . .

His attention to courtesy and correct behavior anticipated his political philosophy.

He was influenced by Roman notions of nobility, but he was even more deeply influenced by a list of table manners and rules for conversation by Jesuits.”

Character and self-mastery were his goals through living his guiding ideals of fortitude, justice, moderation, and the dignity of every human being.

For Washington, life became a series of resolutions to live by.

He wrote and studied many such maxims throughout his life. Here are two examples. (see appendix for more)

1. With me it has always been a maxim rather to let my designs appear from my works rather than by my expressions.
Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.

2. Washington developed and studied his maxims repeatedly, becoming convicted of the correctness of the maxims, teaching virtue over happiness and duty over rights, resolving to live based upon the principles implied within them.

Katherine Kersten, in George Washington’s Character, asks:

“What would Washington have accomplished if happiness, rather than integrity and service, had been his life-goal?

Instead of suffering with his men through the snows of Valley Forge, he might have followed the example of Benedict Arnold, another Revolutionary War General.

Though brave and talented, Arnold valued his own well-being and prosperity above all else.

Out of self-interest, he plotted to betray West Point to the British, and died a traitor to his nation.

What can we learn from Washington and his contemporaries about character-building?

They teach us, most importantly, that “the soul can be schooled.” Exercising reason and will, we can mold ourselves into beings far nobler than nature made us.”

The ending quotation summarizes character-based training beautifully – “the soul can be schooled”.

Washington attended this class daily on his way to developing the nobility of character needed to unite the American colonies.

General Henry Knox spoke truthfully when he shared that it was the strength of Washington’s character, not the laws of the new Constitution, that held the young republic together.

In a tribute to his friend, Congressman Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee eulogized Washington, saying,

“First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life.

Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting…

Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand.

The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues…

Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.”

Lee’s tribute testifies to Washington’s faithful application of his resolutions into his life, living his maxims both privately and publicly.


Orrin Woodward is the co-founder of TEAM, a leadership development and training company, and the New York Times best-selling co-author of Launching a Leadership Revolution.

Named by the International Association of Business as a Top 10 Leadership Guru, he is dedicated to building leaders and entrepreneurs and promoting freedom and prosperity.

Orrin blogs regularly at Orrin Woodward. He lives in Port St. Lucie, Florida with his wife and four children.

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