Ronald Reagan on Heroes

Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They’re just braver 5 minutes longer.
― Ronald Reagan

I’d classify this quote as sheer genius for two reasons. (Well actually three, if you count the fact that I’m a huge fan of Ronald Reagan to begin with). The foremost is that it recognizes that we all have the capacity for heroism. That deep-down ardor for kleos aphthiton, enduring glory, was designed as part of our humanity. I think that our prevailing fear of failure, or even worse, dull complacency, causes us to set our sights much too low, much too often. There is a reason why it is good for us to surround ourselves with extraordinary people, why athletes often prepare for a game by envisioning themselves performing their best, or why we know to encourage young kids to read and draw. Running parallel to its pleasure, the power of the imagination is that it can transform abstract hero-worship in our mind into an understanding in our hearts that we are capable and have the obligation to act heroically. The second point is worthy of daily consideration: heroes are made in the small moments. The five minutes. If you do not adhere faithfully to your principles in the little things, how can you reasonably expect yourself to be faithful in the bigger, more public matters?

Inspired by the above quotation, I’d like to conclude this weekly passage with a tidy essay I recently penned on the two political leads whom I admire the most. Not only do both Walker and Sasse exhibit heroism, but they also inspire heroic action in others.


 

Two political leaders that I hold in high esteem are Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Nebraskan Senator Ben Sasse. Both men fight for the free market and family values that are the bedrock of our great American society, though my particular admiration is sparked by how they do so. Walker is courageous and straightforward, and those virtues were demonstrated as he stood firm about making Wisconsin a right-to-work state and emerging victorious from the recall election by a greater margin than his original win. Second, he has the mind of a principled business leader, as he lowered taxes, reduced regulation, and cut funding to Planned Parenthood. My esteem of Senator Sasse arises because he has the well-rounded attributes of a great historian and communicator. Knowledge of history is necessary for understanding why our founding principles are worthy of conservation, and his scholarliness is evident in his speeches through his easy references to Tocqueville’s notion of voluntary association, Burke’s conservative principles, Madison’s view on limited government, and even Aristotle on friendship. His real wisdom is the way he presents these timeless truths with compassion and humor. An argument may be valid, but it must also be understood to be great. Lastly, exhibiting the difference between meaningful quotes and sound-bytes, Sasse once articulated the meaning of America in the best way I’ve heard:

Limited government is not an end in itself. Limited government is a way to constrain the things that could displace those institutions and those transmission opportunities that define what is fully meaningful in human life.

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Leadership is a Choice

“The majority prove their worth by keeping busy. A busy life is the nearest thing to a purposeful life.”

―Eric Hoffer

Never foregoing an opportunity to partially quench my burning curiosity for this world that we live in, I passed the three hour sojourn to Omaha this weekend to the pleasant chatter of the “Smart Women, Smart Power” podcast. But before I dig in, let me take a moment to savor the fact that I can sit in this darling cafe at the end of a hectic work day, spearmint-lavender tea in hand, and write my thoughts down. I enjoy a remarkable amount of control over my life right now, and for that I am grateful. This post will be focused on those who have leveraged the things they have control over in order to create a life that is busy with purpose. Though the lectures were refreshingly spaced by yours truly with her favorite country tunes and the occasional Sound of Music melody, I managed to complete the series this weekend and have listed below my favorites, accompanied by a handful of takeaways. Enjoy!

Carly Fiorina – A Candid Conversation

“Leadership is a choice,” an excerpt that I borrowed for my title, stuck with me the most from this podcast. Funny how many things–leadership,  courage, happiness, love– come down to a choice, a choice that we are presented with every fresh minute. Now whether you are ready to cast your vote for her or would laugh at the prospect, it is tough not to admire Carly’s conviction and courage. I would argue that our society is water-logged in a pitiful sea of lukewarmness, an aversion towards caring too much or being too informed, that can only be remedied by people who ignite a trend of educating themselves and others on topics they hold dear.

Combating Islamic Extremism

This is a scary, revulsive topic– which is exactly why it ought to be addressed. Not only does the point of parental responsibility need to be made more often, but we all have something to learn from these youth whose strive for purpose, something worth dying for, allows them to be seduced by such cruel destruction. Awareness of our priceless identity as human beings must be remembered and nurtured above all else, since that is the light by which the world and our mission in it are illuminated.

Mobile Money – Foreign Aid Disrupter?

I can’t quite put my finger on how development aid through emerging technology became such a passion of mine, but it certainly has made its home in my heart. I love this podcast for the incredibly specific examples, clarity of economic reasoning, and overall exciting prospect that it proposes. Now, who’s visiting Africa with me?


To conclude, it’s really about being custodians of our own backyards. And if we happen to have had backyards all over the world, then that privilege just makes our duty that much broader. The good news is that what the world needs already lies within us. uinfluence

Dive Right In

“Lean into discomfort,” is a great phrase that has been echoed many times here. While well-intended and assuredly well-received, it dawned on me that I’ve just never been one to inch into the water. If I’m going to get my feet wet, I might as well go all the way, as quickly as possible, and with feigned bravery written on my face. I recently had the pleasure of receiving a lovely letter in the mail, which contained a lucky little reminder: I have no doubt in your ability to dive right in. So do it! Lately, I have been the tiniest bit guilty of complacency and choosing comfort over the uncertainty of adventure. That is not how a courageous women would travel through life, especially when she is studying abroad in the Dominican Republic. Who am I not to open up and try new things (even if that means somewhat regretting that cachú-doused street food)? Luckily the Man Upstairs knows precisely how to nudge us in the right direction, and in less than three days, the Comunidad will embark on our first campo immersion. I’m not going to smooth over my uneasiness and act like spending 10 days in a mountain village with no Internet, no running water, and no English-speakers doesn’t freak me out. In fact, the mere thought makes me want to wrap myself up in a tidy burrito of cleanliness, familiarity and good Internet access. But like the rest of my tough companions, I’m just going to take it into stride. It’s actually pretty funny the way things work out.  Recently, I was surprised to find myself suffering the pangs of deeply missing my grandparents and the crazy hooligans I call my siblings, but it turns out that my host family includes an abuelita, Olga, and two niños, ages 12 and 8. ¡Qué linda! Not only that, but there’s a tree-climbing, swamp-exploring, and bug-catching little girl inside of me that I would love to get in touch with again. Here’s to rediscovering simple ways to be joyful. Here’s to discovering new ways to be thankful. And on that happy note, an admirable poem:

Inexorable Deities

By: Edgar Lee Masters

Deities!
Inexorable revealers,
Give me strength to endure
The gifts of the Muses,
Daughters of Memory.
When the sky is blue as Minerva’s eyes
Let me stand unshaken;
When the sea sings to the rising sun
Let me be unafraid;
When the meadow lark falls like a meteor
Through the light of afternoon,
An unloosened fountain of rapture,
Keep my heart from spilling
Its vital power;
When at the dawn
The dim souls of crocuses hear the calls
Of waking birds,
Give me to live but master the loveliness.
Keep my eyes unharmed from splendors
Unveiled by you,
And my ears at peace
Filled no less with the music
Of Passion and Pain, growth and change.
But O ye sacred and terrible powers,
Reckless of my mortality,
Strengthen me to behold a face,
To know the spirit of a beloved one
Yet to endure, yet to dare!