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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Blinking Lights Project

“One night we asked people to blink their lights if they believed in freedom for Poland.  We went to the window, and for hours, all of Warsaw was blinking.”   

Blinking Lights Project

Over the last 25 years, leaders in the free market movement have stressed the need for sound public-policy research and basic economic education. Though important, they are proving to be insufficient to overcome trends that are eroding our liberties. Why?

The missing focus is on personal character.

The Blinking Lights Project is a new effort at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) designed to highlight and emphasize the vital link between personal character and a free society. 

In America’s first century, strong personal character kept our liberties substantially intact without the need for think tanks, policy research, and economic education. Americans from all walks of life generally opposed the expansion of government power not because they read policy studies or earned degrees in economics, but because they placed a high priority on character. Using government to get something at somebody else’s expense, or mortgaging the future for near-term gain, seemed dishonest and cynical to them, if not downright wrong.

A free society is impossible without character because bad character leads to bad economics, which is bad for liberty. Ultimately, whether we live free or stumble in the dark thrall of serfdom is a matter of our individual character.

The Blinking Lights Project at FEE connects character, liberty and economics. On this webpage you will find resources designed to explain that connection. We are launching this project by offering the inspirational movie Amazing Grace, numerous written articles, videos and recorded webinars.

If you find these resources helpful, please share them with your family and friends. Our future depends on it.

Created by Stanley Varner of Provo, Utah


Why is it called the Blinking Lights Project?
It stems from an experience Lawrence Reed had back in 1986, when he took a trip behind the Iron Curtain to visit freedom-fighters in communist-run Poland.
There he met with Zbigniew and Sofia Romaszewski, two brave dissidents who had just been released from prison because of their work to spread the word of liberty.  
They had run an underground radio station that communicated the truths that the state-controlled media wouldn’t let their people hear.  They could only broadcast eight to ten minutes at a time before moving their location to stay ahead of the police.  
Lawrence asked them “how did you know people were listening?”  So they told him something he’ll never forget:
“One night we asked people to blink their lights if they believed in freedom for Poland.  We went to the window, and for hours, all of Warsaw was blinking.”  
Those blinking lights were a harbinger of freedom to come for Poland, as just three years later the Iron Curtain fell and Eastern Europe was freed from communist oppression.
Here is Lindy Vopnfjörð’s song inspired by the story:


Are We Good Enough for Liberty?

Without Character, A Free Society Is Not Just Unlikely . . . It’s Impossible.

“Ravaged by conflict, corruption, and tyranny, the world is starving for people of character.
Indeed, as much as anything, it is on this matter that the fate of individual liberty has always depended.
A free society flourishes when people seek to be models of honor, honesty, and propriety at whatever the cost in material wealth, social status, or popularity. It descends into barbarism when they abandon what’s right in favor of self- gratification at the expense of others; when lying, cheating, or stealing are winked at instead of shunned.
If you want to be free, if you want to live in a free society, you must assign top priority to raising the caliber of your character and learning from those who already have it in spades.
If you do not govern yourself, you will be governed.”
Lawrence W. Reed
For parents and the rising generation, an important lesson told in forceful and persuasive speech. The barbarians are now at our gates. Will we respond?
Download this book as a:


“Blinking Lights” Award

Nelson Nash Wins the 2018 Blinking Lights Award

With great pleasure at the closing banquet of FEEcon on June 9, FEE bestowed its 2018 Blinking Lights Award upon a dear friend and one of our most longstanding and faithful supporters, Nelson Nash of Birmingham, Alabama.

Nelson is the developer of the Infinite Banking Concept, explained here by economist Robert Murphy. For decades, Nelson has been an activist and spokesperson for liberty, free markets, sound money and the Austrian School of Economics. He came to know our founder, Leonard Read, when he attended a FEE seminar more than half a century ago. His beautiful wife Mary has been at his side, supporting his championship of all the right ideas for over 65 years, and was present on stage as Nelson received the award. A native of Georgia, Nelson has extensive experience in both forestry and life insurance and earned Master Aviator Wings during his 30 years of service in the Army National Guard.

Toshio Murata Wins the 2017 Blinking Lights Award 

Seven thousand miles from the Atlanta headquarters of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) blinks a light that never quits. Its name is Toshio Murata, a master teacher (or “sensei” in Japanese) if ever there was one! To recognize his singular contributions in introducing to his native Japan an understanding of free markets in general and the principles of “Austrian” economics in particular, FEE is proud to present him with an early birthday gift: our 2017 “Blinking Lights” Award.

Bob Chitester Wins 2016 Blinking Lights Award

FEE is pleased to announce the recipient of its 2016 “Blinking Lights” Award: Bob Chitester, chairman, president, and CEO of Free To Choose Network. The award was presented to Chitester by FEE president Lawrence Reed at FEE’s Annual Retreat in Bonita Springs, Florida . 

Read more on his award, presented in January 2016.

The recipient of FEE’s first “Blinking Lights” Award: Linda Whetstone of Sussex, England. The award was presented to Whetstone by FEE president Lawrence Reed on May 12, 2014 in London. 

To learn more about Linda and the award, click here.

Amazing Grace

“Most inspiring movie!  I’ll carry this passion with me for a long time.  It will be my work to pass this on to my students.”  -5th grade teacher

One initiative that we’re pleased to announce as part of this project is our Amazing Grace initiative. Thanks to Walden Media, we were able to offer free copies of this film, along with a brief pamphlet including discussion questions. Our hope is that this film will help promote discussion of the importance of individual character in a free society.


Module Overview

Lawrence Reed on Liberty and Character:

Recommended reading:

The Character of Edward Snowden
What Doesn’t Kill You
The Story of Nicholas Winton
Are We Rome?
A Tribute to the Polish People
Character, Liberty, and Economics
A Student’s Essay That Changed the World
Joseph P. Overton: Character for a Free Society
An Inspiration for All Time

  • The Foundation for Economic Education, founded 1946, works for a free and prosperous world.