Culture & The Perspective of History

By: Colin Martin

Culture & The Perspective of History

“What has so often excited wonder, is the great rapidity with which countries recover from a state of devastation, the disappearance in a short time, of all traces of mischief done by earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and the ravages of war. An enemy lays waste a country by fire and sword, and destroys or carries away nearly all the moveable wealth existing in it: all the inhabitants are ruined, and yet in a few years after, everything is much as it was before.”

─ John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy, 1848

One of the underpinnings of respect & leadership is perspective and one of the underpinnings of perspective is an understanding of history.  An understanding of history promotes awareness of self and the world at large.  When we are aware of ourselves and the world around us, we can more easily maneuver through difficult times with wisdom, making better choices.

We certainly are in difficult times, both economically, politically, and socially.  But we are also blessed with businesses that are growing and/or staring down the barrel of great opportunity.  It’s amazing to me that Mill wrote the above words over 150 years ago and they are still super relevant today.  Have you ever heard the phrase “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing”.  The original, written by J.S. Mill was a little more eloquent: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing”. 

A huge proponent of individual liberty, here are a few more J.S. Mill quotes:

“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.”

“Ask yourself whether you are happy and you cease to be so.”

“One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests.”

“No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought.”

“The most cogent reason for restricting the interference of government is the great evil of adding unnecessarily to its power.”

“The pupil who is never required to do what he cannot do, never does what he can do.”

If you get as concerned about our society (and economy) as I do from time to time, be heartened that history is on our side.  Did you catch Mill’s point above (that you may remember from a previous post) when he talks about how the enemy destroys or carries away nearly all the moveable wealth existing in it, ruining all the inhabitants, and yet in a few years after, everything is much as it was before.”  Why is that?  What enables societies to bounce back again and again throughout human history?  When the moveable wealth is taken, the real wealth of our knowledge, skill, and wisdom can never be taken from us.  The knowledge based businesses of Kopis and Vigilix are strong today because the knowledge, experience and wisdom of our businesses are found in you.  YOU are our strength.  YOU are the reason that today we are strong when other businesses are not.

I’m grateful to work with you, incredible people in growing, merit-based businesses that value intensity & quality.  I’m grateful that we have each other, as iron sharpens iron, and I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with your awesomeness.

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