About 30 years ago, I came across a few sentences labeled “The World Needs More.” They might have appeared in Readers’ Digest, I’m not sure, and the author was noted as “Anonymous.” I’ve tried many times in the decades since to find the author’s name, but to no avail. Whoever wrote those original three or four sentences was on to something important, and they’ve spurred me to revise and extend them into a much longer piece. I’ve shared them with audiences all over the world, most recently at a Georgia Public Policy Foundation in Atlanta in November 2016. Invariably, people in great numbers approach me afterwards to ask, “May I get a copy of that?”
This little essay expresses well the message of personal character that we at FEE regard as crucial to freedom and happiness. Indeed, I’ve stressed on numerous occasions that freedom and character are two sides of the same coin. Societies cannot possess one without the other and no society that ever lost its character kept its freedoms. This is a message that comes through loud and clear, I believe, in my recent book, Real Heroes: Inspiring True Stories of Courage, Character and Conviction, which has proved to be quite popular here in the US and abroad.
If you are inspired by this essay to be a better example to those around you, or if you can put it to use to inspire others to self-improvement, you will totally make my day. Here it is:
The world needs more men and women who do not have a price at which they can be bought; who do not borrow from integrity to pay for expediency; who have their priorities straight and in proper order; whose handshake is an ironclad contract; who are not afraid of taking risks to advance what is right; who stand for what’s true and not simply what they think others will fall for; and who are honest in all matters, large and small.
The world needs more men and women whose ambitions are big enough to include others; who know how to win with grace and lose with dignity; who do not believe that shrewdness and cunning and ruthlessness are the three keys to success; who still have friends they made twenty or thirty years ago; who put principle and consistency above politics or personal advancement; and who are not afraid to go against the grain of popular opinion.
The world needs more men and women who are humble enough to realize that planning their own lives is a full-time challenge and are therefore not foolish enough to think they can plan the lives or the economy of millions of others. They don’t regard the central government as the highest authority. The world needs more men and women unafraid to take responsibility, adult enough to accept accountability, courageous enough to speak truth to power, and smart enough to express gratitude to others when they deserve it.
The world needs more men and women who are tolerant of the differences that make people the unique individuals they are; who don’t feel threatened by opinions or lifestyles or faiths of others who are otherwise peaceful and respectful in their conduct; who are patient enough to win over others through persuasion, not force; who don’t demand that politicians improve their lot in life by diminishing that of another; who understand that adding value through production, innovation and service is a far higher calling than redistributing the property of others at gunpoint.
The world needs more men and women who do not forsake what is right just to get consensus because it makes them look good; who know how important it is to lead by example, not by barking orders; who would not have you do something they would not do themselves; who work to turn even the most adverse circumstances into opportunities to learn and improve; who muster the integrity to work for a living instead of voting for one, and who love even those who have done some injustice or unfairness to them. The world, in other words, needs more men and women who possess those traits honored by time, experience and good sense and that we collectively call personal character.