Blinking Lights Project

“One night we asked people to blink their lights if they believed in freedom for Poland.  We went to the window, and for hours, all of Warsaw was blinking.”  
 

Blinking Lights Project

Over the last 25 years, leaders in the free market movement have stressed the need for sound public-policy research and basic economic education. Though important, they are proving to be insufficient to overcome trends that are eroding our liberties. Why?

The missing focus is on personal character.

The Blinking Lights Project is a new effort at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) designed to highlight and emphasize the vital link between personal character and a free society. 

In America’s first century, strong personal character kept our liberties substantially intact without the need for think tanks, policy research, and economic education. Americans from all walks of life generally opposed the expansion of government power not because they read policy studies or earned degrees in economics, but because they placed a high priority on character. Using government to get something at somebody else’s expense, or mortgaging the future for near-term gain, seemed dishonest and cynical to them, if not downright wrong.

A free society is impossible without character because bad character leads to bad economics, which is bad for liberty. Ultimately, whether we live free or stumble in the dark thrall of serfdom is a matter of our individual character.

The Blinking Lights Project at FEE connects character, liberty and economics. On this webpage you will find resources designed to explain that connection. We are launching this project by offering the inspirational movie Amazing Grace, numerous written articles, videos and recorded webinars.

If you find these resources helpful, please share them with your family and friends. Our future depends on it.


Why is it called the Blinking Lights Project?
 
It stems from an experience Lawrence Reed had back in 1986, when he took a trip behind the Iron Curtain to visit freedom-fighters in communist-run Poland.
 
There he met with Zbigniew and Sofia Romaszewski, two brave dissidents who had just been released from prison because of their work to spread the word of liberty.  
 
They had run an underground radio station that communicated the truths that the state-controlled media wouldn’t let their people hear.  They could only broadcast eight to ten minutes at a time before moving their location to stay ahead of the police.  
 
Lawrence asked them “how did you know people were listening?”  So they told him something he’ll never forget:
 
“One night we asked people to blink their lights if they believed in freedom for Poland.  We went to the window, and for hours, all of Warsaw was blinking.”  
 
Those blinking lights were a harbinger of freedom to come for Poland, as just three years later the Iron Curtain fell and Eastern Europe was freed from communist oppression.
 
Here is Lindy Vopnfjörð's song inspired by the story:
 

Are We Good Enough for Liberty?

Without Character, A Free Society Is Not Just Unlikely . . . It’s Impossible.

 
“Ravaged by conflict, corruption, and tyranny, the world is starving for people of character.
 
Indeed, as much as anything, it is on this matter that the fate of individual liberty has always depended.
 
A free society flourishes when people seek to be models of honor, honesty, and propriety at whatever the cost in material wealth, social status, or popularity. It descends into barbarism when they abandon what’s right in favor of self- gratification at the expense of others; when lying, cheating, or stealing are winked at instead of shunned.
 
If you want to be free, if you want to live in a free society, you must assign top priority to raising the caliber of your character and learning from those who already have it in spades.
 
If you do not govern yourself, you will be governed.”
Lawrence W. Reed
 
For parents and the rising generation, an important lesson told in forceful and persuasive speech. The barbarians are now at our gates. Will we respond?
 
Download this book as a:
 

 

Amazing Grace

“Most inspiring movie!  I’ll carry this passion with me for a long time.  It will be my work to pass this on to my students.”  -5th grade teacher

One initiative that we’re pleased to announce as part of this project is our Amazing Grace initiative. Thanks to Walden Media, we are able to offer free copies of this film, along with a brief pamphlet including discussion questions. Our hope is that this film will help promote discussion of the importance of individual character in a free society.




Module Overview


Lawrence Reed on Liberty and Character:


Recommended reading:

The Character of Edward Snowden
What Doesn't Kill You
The Story of Nicholas Winton
Are We Rome?
A Tribute to the Polish People
Character, Liberty, and Economics
A Student's Essay That Changed the World
Joseph P. Overton: Character for a Free Society
An Inspiration for All Time
 

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April 2014

Around the world, people are struggling to throw off authoritarianism, with deeply mixed results. From Egypt to Venezuela, determined people build networks to overthrow their regimes, but as yet we have not learned to live without Leviathan. In this issue, Michael Malice and Gary Dudney discuss their glimpses inside totalitarian regimes, while Sarah Skwire and Michael Nolan look at how totalitarian regimes grind down the individual--and how individuals fight back. Plus, Jeffrey Tucker identifies a strain in libertarianism that, left unchecked, could reduce even our vibrant movement to something that is analogous to the grim aesthetic of architectural brutalism. The struggle for our lives and freedom is a struggle for beauty; it begins inside each of us.
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