The Gift of Freedom: Part 2

It is Important to Take Freedom Seriously!
We have a unique gift in the United States, and that gift is freedom.  The Declaration of Independence guarantees all of us “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This means we are free to pursue our lives and our vocations in any way that makes sense to us.  Freedom is what makes America so great.  What we do with our freedom is up to us.  It is our choice.  Freedom is our grandest opportunity and should be protected, especially in challenging times.  The importance of the freedom to choose is demonstrated by the story of Ewing Marion Kauffman. 
After serving in World War II, Ewing Marion Kauffman started working as a salesman for a pharmaceutical company and was extremely successful.  When he started making more money than his boss, he found that his sales territory was suddenly limited.  Mr. Kauffman’s boss limited the sales territory on purpose.  After all, an employee couldn’t make more money than the boss!
Mr. Kauffman made a decision after his sales territory and income were limited.  He quit his job and vowed never to work for anyone else again.  He started his business in 1950 in the basement of his home.  He generated $36,000 in sales and $1,000 of net profit in his first year.  By 1989, Mr. Kauffman’s business made over $1 billion in sales and employed over 3,400 people.
Mr. Kauffman wanted to give back to the world and used his knowledge and wealth to form the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a foundation designed to support entrepreneurship and innovation.  The foundation now holds approximately $2 billion in assets.
Dr. Carl Schramm, the current President of the Kauffman Foundation, wrote a book, The Entrepreneurial Imperative.  In this book, he notes three things all Americans should remember in the face of gloomy times:
First, “never bet against the American system”
Second, know that being an American is your very best asset
Third, “never count on anyone but you to create your own destiny”
The American system is designed so that we can pursue our passions and dreams, especially in challenging times.  Our ability to pursue our dreams and create our own destiny is what makes our country so great.
We all have the freedom to choose what to do with our lives, and we have the freedom to help one another.  We have the freedom to pursue our ideas, our dreams and our passions. We have the freedom to create our own destiny.
People like my uncle Jack realized this and helped protect the freedoms we have in the United States.  Uncle Jack was a fascinating man.  When I was young, all I knew about him was that he was great at hunting night crawlers.  In fact, he taught me how to hunt them.
We lived in the apartment above my parents’ TV and appliance store and did not have much of a yard.  Luckily, Uncle Jack lived only a few blocks away and had the perfect yard for gathering night crawlers. 
When it rained at night, we would walk down to his house with our flashlights and buckets.  Dad and Uncle Jack would help us kids hunt night crawlers so we could use them as bait when we went fishing.
There is actually a trick to getting your night crawler.  You have to shine the light on night crawlers to find them while they are above the wet ground.  But you have to be quick.  Too much light scares them back into the ground.  You have to remember where they are and grab them quickly yet gently.  Then you have to slowly coax them out of the hole a little bit at a time.  If you try to force them out, they break. 
Night crawlers and people are similar in this regard.  If you force individuals down a path they do not truly want to pursue, eventually they break.  Humans must find their own path and pursue their own destiny with passion and purpose in order to live their best lives.
I did not understand much about Uncle Jack until I was a young adult.   He was a World War II Veteran and served under General George S. Patton during the Battle of the Bulge.  Absolutely amazing!  He was a World War II hero and I thought he was awesome because of his ability to catch night crawlers!
Uncle Jack and his family sacrificed when he served our country.  As Americans, we must remember that our freedom is not free.  Many men and women have died, been injured and scarified a great deal to provide us with the ability to live our lives the way in which we choose to do so.  Taking our freedom for granted dishonors our troops and veterans.  It also dishonors their families, who have sacrificed more than many of us can imagine.  These people have truly sacrificed for all of us and our great nation.  We must honor and salute them everyday.  Because everyday we have the freedom to choose how we spend our time.
We must also fight to keep our freedom. We have a voice, and we have to use it.  Get out there and vote.  Just make sure to read the fine print first!  Don’t believe everything you hear or read. Instead, think critically about your choices before making them.
The bottom line:  Cherish your freedom, protect it and use it to create your destiny!
As I am writing this Extension Update, I am reminded of the importance of freedom not only as it relates to entrepreneurship, business development and our freedom to chose but also the importance of preserving it and protecting it for future generations.  It is my daughter’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Raquel!  As a parent, I want to do what I can to preserve freedom so my children and other young people continue to have the freedom to pursue their dreams.

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