Sailing with Mark Twain
Monday, November 21, 2016
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin
I was talking to a friend the other day about income tax rates. He surprised me by saying that he would gladly pay much higher taxes if it meant that the federal government would take almost complete care of him and his family. As you may have guessed, I countered by saying that I much preferred paying less in taxes and taking care of my family myself.
Without saying so, my friend favors socialism whereas I am a capitalist, through and through. And to a large degree, these two competing economic systems were at the heart of the recent presidential campaign.
I know I am painting with a rather broad brush, but most Democrats favor a larger and more intrusive federal government - and are willing to pay for it as long as it provides for their day-to-day needs (and promises the false panacea of a worry-free retirement). Most Republicans, by comparison, wear "big boy pants", meaning that they prefer to be self-reliant and self-supporting.
In plain language, big-government Democrats are generally risk-averse while Republicans are willing to roll the dice because they believe in themselves... and in an unlimited future.
Fortunately, on November 8th, the American people rejected the former and embraced the latter.
The thing I like best about capitalism is that if you are willing to work hard and take risks, the sky is the limit. I have followed that basic formula – with the additional ingredient of trusting God – in founding two successful non-profit ministries. One has been around for 30 years and the other just turned five.
To me, life is not about simply getting by without taking any chances or making any waves (or having any impact). On the contrary, I see life as an exciting adventure that we only get to experience once.
Perhaps Mark Twain said it best. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.”
I think Twain’s sage advice is even more applicable for Christians. Instead of choosing the easiest path in life - the one with the least resistance - I believe that we should follow the one that offers the most promising results for eternity… even if it seems more dangerous or less certain.
And yes, even if it requires sacrifice and hardship.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I… I took the less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Those immortal words, written by Robert Frost, pack quite a punch and echo the same sentiment.
So Denmark, Norway, Sweden and other increasingly socialist countries, you can keep your higher tax rates along with your “free” healthcare and “free” college education. The same goes for you, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. I prefer to stand on my own two feet, thank you very much.
Meanwhile, if you need to reach me, I’ll be sailing with Mark Twain or hiking with Robert Frost.