Why is Perseverance Vital to the Art of Living in Liberty?
Little can be achieved without perseverance. Few things come easy in life. How many times have we been told of the “overnight wonder” who, when truth be told, had been working at her craft for years before suddenly being discovered.
President Calvin Coolidge put it this way:
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common that unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
Aesop’s fable of the Tortoise and the Hare extols the virtue of persistence with the lesson that slow and steady wins the race. In sports, we are told: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
The great weapon of the Progressives is perseverance; they have worked for more than 100 years to achieve their vision of America. Slowly at first, then in spurts, they have achieved a counter-revolution. First they won the argument that the principles of the Declaration of Independence are not relevant to a modern economy. Once the founding principles were set aside, the way was clear to demolish the Constitutional restraints on the Federal government and to overcome the separation of powers through the creation of an “Administrative State.” One consequence is the creation of a ruling class elevated by intellect, education, and the ties of elite universities and family that holds sway among both Democrats and Republicans.
At the same time, the Progressive’s belief in government has undermined the virtue of perseverance in the private sector by offering positive rights, promising entitlements, punishing and deriding success as “unfair” and evidence of “greed,” and by minimizing the importance of the individual relative to the the group or “society.”
The lesson for us is perseverance is vital, first and foremost for taking care of our selves and our families. Perseverance is a habit of living in liberty, and therefore essential to the art of living in liberty. Perseverance empowers us to achieve our goals, and to overcome the obstacles that life throws in our path. It is essential to self-government.
Perseverance also is absolutely necessary if we, as a Community of Liberty, are to achieve our twin goals of learning the art of living in liberty and expanding the space of liberty in our community. We, too, are embarking on an undertaking that may take 100 years or longer – the rebirth of the American Revolution and the restoration of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Our polar star is the Declaration of Independence and the principles found therein: the self evident truths that all Men are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. And, that to secure these rights, the Founders wrote, and the American people gave their consent to a constitutional government of limited and enumerated powers.
In choosing to persevere, it is important to keep several things in mind:
Persistence without intelligence can lead to an embrace of ignorance and stubborn disregard for what needs to be done. Knowing “when to hold them, and when to fold them” in life, as in the game of poker, is vital for true accomplishment.
Yet, it is perhaps more true that: “Failure is only postponed success as long as courage ‘coaches’ ambition. The habit of persistence is the habit of victory.” (Herbert Kaufman)
We have achieved a sound beginning in the founding of Community of Liberty and now have chosen two projects to expand the space of liberty in our community:
- Sponsor an essay contest for high school scenarios on the meaning of “liberty.”
- Offer a course based on Hillsdale College’s Constitution 101 to high school juniors and seniors and individuals in junior college.
Unforeseen obstacles and disappointments surely lie ahead. But, with perseverance, we can begin the process of shifting the common sense of the American people and changing the path of American history. In the months and years ahead, we can take guidance and inspiration from the following readings:
Please take a few minutes to read each of these items and then reflect on the questions below.
- What do each of the readings above say about the importance of perseverance?
- Can you admire the Progressives for their perseverance, even as you commit to a rebirth of the American Revolution?
- How has perseverance been important in your life and the life of your family? Does reflecting on this story now give you a greater sense of accomplishment or satisfaction?
I look forward to a lively discussion at our breakfast meeting this Friday morning. In addition, in celebration and gratitude for the principles put forward in the Declaration of Independence, and in anticipation of its 226th anniversary on the Fourth of July, we will read it to close our meeting. If you have a copy of the Declaration, please bring it.