One of the joys of working at FEE is that we often hear inspiring stories from people whose lives the organization affected—even transformed—as far back as seven decades ago.
One such person, Zak Klemmer of Tucson, Arizona, sent me a note last month that gave me the idea for the focus of this update. Here’s what Zak told me:
What I remember most about the FEE Seminar I attended in 1971 was the Friday evening session and Leonard Read’s presentation. These two ideas caught my attention and made a lasting impression on me.
- He drew a diagram to illustrate the “known and unknown” and went on to explain that the more we knew the more we knew that we didn’t know. This was the first time I had ever heard of this concept.
- Part of Mr. Read’s presentation was about our right to determine what medical treatments we could accept. Until this time I had accepted that medical science was advancing and that the expert doctors knew what was best. This was the first time that I actually connected the dots to understand that I owned my own life and that I had the right to decide what was best for myself.
At that time, I lived in Reseda, California, in the San Fernando Valley, about 40 miles from Ojai, where the seminar was held. I could not afford to stay at a motel so I commuted from home to attend all three sessions. The experience shaped how I’ve seen the world ever since. It made me a life-long advocate for liberty.
Testimonials like that really warm the heart and affirm our work. We receive them on a regular basis. Though our collection is now quite numerous, every single one of them is special. To know that something someone from FEE said or wrote profoundly affected the life of another human being is more than gratifying—it’s what we’re ultimately all about! You can’t change the course of society unless and until you change the thinking of its individual constituents.
In the years before computers and the Internet, FEE kept minimal records of those who came to its seminars and other presentations. We had no formal program to stay in touch with those we affected, other than our hard copy publications such as our magazine, The Freeman. In the past two years, however, we’ve dramatically changed that with the robust FEE Alumni Network program, which you can read about here.
Thousands of FEE alumni are now active members, and hundreds are joining every year. They are writing letters to the editor, sending their sons and daughters to FEE programs, distributing FEE literature and hosting events for FEE in their respective communities. Just last month at Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala, 45 FEE alumni attended a special reception hosted by alums Zachary Caceres and Kevin Estakhri!
Once we introduce “newcomers” to ideas of liberty and a free economy, the goal of the FEE Alumni Network is to nurture them to the next level, connect them with like-minded people and “next-step opportunities,” and activate them to become lifelong learners and advocates for our shared values. Hence our motto, “Inspire, Educate and Connect.”
Under the leadership of our programs director, Richard Lorenc, the FEE Alumni Network promises to become a vital component of FEE’s dramatic growth we’re planning for in the years ahead. “When we look at the FEE Alumni Network in 10 years, we see young professionals in nearly every field, leading for a free society by their actions and examples,” says Richard.
If you’re a FEE alum and haven’t joined the FEE Alumni Network yet, consider this your invitation. We would love to hear from you! If you’re a FEE donor, please know this: Your investment is producing a growing army of young, passionate and articulate men and women across many professions. They plan to make liberty an important part of their lives and the lives of those they will influence. And YOU are making that possible!
Lawrence W. Reed