Independence

June 26, 2007

I’ve been blogging weekly since I started “Chasing Wisdom” a few months back. This is my first time to miss my weekly deadline, but it was planned. I will be out of town over the 4th of July week so I decided to put this post in the middle of a 3-week span and another at the end when I get back.

The Independence Day theme is transformative for aspiring entrepreneurs and self-bossers. Our nation was founded on the basis of personal liberty of thought and expression, ending formalized categories of class, and market freedom through capitalism. Until the late 19th to early 20th century, nearly every person in the United States was self-employed or a small business owner. That included farmers, craftsmen, and small-scale merchants.

When I hear talks about employees transitioning to self-employment and business ownership, the reasons I hear resonate with all the great lessons I learned as a child about the ideals and values of this country: freedom of expression, the liberty to choose our own paths and design our futures, freedom to participate in the economy and take responsibility for our own income and wealth, and the freedom to learn and try new things unbound by class.

Some of you may be surprised that these were some of the lessons I learned about my country, since there are so many negative messages about the history of the nation and a focus on mistakes and flaws taught in public school today. I went to school in rural Oklahoma and suburban Texas, so that might explain why I learned the good stuff. I also learned about the flaws, especially the fact that it’s taken centuries to get closer to allowing all the freedoms of the United States to all citizens of any race, color, or creed. I learned about the wars against Native Americans and a string of broken promises. But I believed these were flaws of people, not flaws of the design. The values and principles of American liberty transform people and transform society over time, generally expanding freedom in spite of the ups and downs at particular points in history.

Independence was initially won to have freedom from a social class system and a closed economic system where most people were at the mercy of the nobility and a few wealthy merchants. Today the typical message about work is, “Get a good job at a big company and work your way up.” That message says put yourself at the mercy of a new nobility, corporations, who are also the wealthiest of the merchants. We’re running from the freedoms gained.

The message of self-employment, self-bossing, small business, and multiple income streams flies in the face of that message. It says, “Reclaim your independence! Take the liberty that is within your grasp! Exercise your freedom!”

What a way to celebrate and honor the spirit of independence in America.

May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,

Steve Coxsey

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