Speaking of America’s founding in “The Fortune of the Republic” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “We began with freedom.”
Indeed. But that freedom didn’t become useful until the Founders converted it into liberty and it will last only as long as the stewards of each generation protect and maintain it.
Freedom is a state of mind anyone can assume. But liberty is a contract we bestow upon and expect from each other. And from that contract, American entrepreneurship was born as the child of liberty.
Liberty and entrepreneurship have an interesting symbiotic relationship: You can have liberty without entrepreneurship, but you can’t have entrepreneurship without at least tacit liberty. But while liberty as a human ideal is more primordial than entrepreneurship, the latter has a veiled political advantage that comes in handy in an increasing number of places on planet Earth.
In fact, outside of America it is possible – sometimes necessary – for the child, entrepreneurship, to precede and flourish ahead of the parent, liberty. In a communist country, for example, if a citizen pursued liberty as a foundation to entrepreneurship, that might be difficult – even dangerous. But since merely practicing entrepreneurship doesn’t have to look like a political statement, engaging in it, even as a veiled precursor to liberty, is safer and more practical.
It can be like that in Afghanistan, too. Except for women.
A while back, while broadcasting my radio program from the IEEW’s “Peace through Business” conference, in Washington, D.C., I met and interviewed an Afghan woman. Freshta Hazeq is a wife and mother of three small children. And she’s an entrepreneur.
Freshta founded the only woman-owned printing company in the capital city of Kabul. In America, she would be celebrated; in Afghanistan, her business has been sabotaged and her life threatened because she competes against men.
The pure entrepreneurial desire to create a business that can provide a living for a family actually promotes liberty without a political declaration. But I predict that over time, in countries like Afghanistan, as the apolitical ideals and values of entrepreneurship acquire critical mass, it will be discovered that liberty – even for women – will flourish on its foundation of entrepreneurship.
In America we began with freedom and forged it into liberty, which gave birth to entrepreneurship. In other places around the world, like Afghanistan, especially if you’re a woman, entrepreneurship will bear a child named liberty. But, alas, like America’s revolution, it will come at a high price.
In the interview, I asked Freshta why she was willing to pay such a price. She said, “Because I have a daughter.”
Write this on a rock ...
Liberty and entrepreneurship – symbiotic and powerful.
Jim Blasingame is the author of the multiple-award-winning book, The Age of the Customer, and the host of The Small Business Advocate Show. email@example.com. SmallBusinessAdvocate.com.