On our sixth birthday: what it means to be a Sovereign Man

June 19, 2015
Kathmandu, Nepal

I’ve never been a big fan of celebrating my birthday.

I just don’t see the point of commemorating the day I popped out of the birth canal.

To give credit where credit is due, mothers do all the heavy lifting, and they’re the ones who should be celebrated.

So several years ago I started a tradition. Each year on my birthday I reach out and say thanks to people who’ve had a positive impact on my life (including my mother).

Now, today isn’t my birthday. But it is Sovereign Man’s.

Six years ago, June 19, 2009, my co-founder Matt Smith and I sent out the very first edition of Notes from the Field to an audience of practically zero.

Since then hundreds of thousands of unique, bright, freedom-minded people have joined our ranks. And I’d like to continue the tradition of expressing my gratitude.

But first if you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’d like to tell you about my amazing experiences in Nepal.

For the last few days, I’ve had the privilege of helping displaced Nepalis whose isolated mountain villages were wiped out from the recent earthquake.

Many of them ended up in Kathmandu with nowhere to go.

So several weeks ago a local woman I befriended established a special camp to provide food and housing for hundreds of victims.

This morning I rented a helicopter for her, and we went high up into the Himalayas right next to the Tibetan border to drop off supplies for the people still there, and to bring back the sick and elderly to the camp.

Spending time with them has been amazing.

Nearly all of the displaced villagers at the camp are farmers. And as they have nothing to farm right now, they’re using this free time to learn how to read, write, and speak English.

Everyone is so gracious and appreciative, even to be living in a loud, crowded tent city next to the airport.

For anyone who comes from a developed nation, it’s hard to not feel thankful.

I’m damn lucky to have been born in the United States in the late 1970s. I had loving parents. Electricity. Three meals a day.

And for that I am truly grateful.

But there is a huge difference between gratitude and complacency.

Nearly the entirety of Western civilization is in decline. Central bankers have put everyone’s livelihoods at risk by playing dice with the financial system.

And bankrupt governments are wiping out freedom as quickly as they can.

Yes, we can feel lucky that it’s not us squatting over a bucket in a refugee camp.

But that doesn’t mean we should be complacent and let our freedom slip away, simply out of guilt that our standard of living is higher than a refugee’s.

Human civilization has been pushed forward for thousands of years by people who said, “We can do better. We can achieve more. We can have more.”

It’s called progress. And it is ruined by complacency.

It’s normal to want to be free.

It’s normal to want to achieve more so that your children can have a better life.

It’s normal to want to prevent a destructive bureaucracy from destroying everything you’ve worked to build.

Gratitude and ambition are not sworn enemies; they can exist in harmony.

You can be grateful for your standard of living while simultaneously having the ambition to grow and protect it.

And you can be grateful for where you came from while still protecting your livelihood from your government’s incompetence.

In fact, I would argue that only those who are grateful for the freedom they used to have would care enough to preserve it.

From the very first email we ever sent six years ago, my goal has been to help provide the tools and education for our readers to do this: become more prosperous and more free from a system that has failed.

And there are major benefits to doing this that go far beyond ourselves.

One thing that I didn’t mention is that my friend’s efforts in Nepal have all been financed privately.

She’s received zero help from any government, nor are there any NGOs running the facility.

It’s a pretty clear lesson; for anyone who cares about helping the less fortunate, one of the most powerful ways to do so is to make sure you remain one of the fortunate.

And you can’t do that if everything you’ve worked to achieve gets wiped out by capital controls. Or inflation. Or excessive taxation that goes to finance destructive wars.

Taking rational, legal steps to increase your freedom means that YOU are in control of your life and choices– in this case, to choose to help people, instead of helping your government drop bombs on them.

This is what it means to be a Sovereign Man. It’s the freedom to choose.

I’m grateful to have had this experience here, and to have had six amazing years of daily conversations with you. I look forward to many more together.

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