Ask a hundred people at random, “What do you think the world needs?”
and you’ll likely get a hundred different answers.
Some might say jobs or money or even yet another government program. Others may suggest love or peace or charity. Here’s my attempt to answer the question:
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 small matters as they are in large ones.
The world needs more men and women who don’t think the highest authority is a collection of politicians; who believe there are eternal truths that govern the universe that no Congress or Emperor can repeal; and who regard each individual as created for a purpose, not an accident of nature whose life means nothing either now or later.
The world needs more men and women who think long-term and can’t be snookered by promises for the moment that simply mortgage the future. It needs people who understand that it’s not a good idea to rob Peter to pay Paul and that it’s an even worse idea to spend what you don’t have and pay for it by burdening with debt generations yet unborn.
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 20 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. 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 praise and gratitude when others deserve it.
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.
In other words, the world desperately needs heroes of character.
Lawrence W. Reed, a resident of Newnan, is president of the Foundation for Economic Education. Each week, he writes about exceptional people, including many from his book, “Real Heroes: Inspiring True Stories of Courage, Character and Conviction.”