Excerpted from here’s how by who’s who, a compilation of messages from successful men. The following article was written by John Davis Lodge in 1965.
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom; it was the age of foolishness. It was the epoch of belief; it was the epoch of incredulity. It was the season of light; it was the season of darkness. It was the spring of hope; it was the winter of despair. We had everything before us; we had nothing before us. We are all going direct to heaven; we were all going direct the other way.”
Most school children will recognize these words as the magnificent introduction which Charles Dickens gave to his immortal classic “The Tale of Two Cities” dealing with the year 1775, just prior to the outbreak of the French and American Revolutions. “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Is that not true of us today? Man with his great achievements, with his staggering scientific discoveries; man with his vast increase of knowledge— and yet man faced with Armageddon, with self-destruction, with annihilation.
In order to meet the dread challenge abroad we must understand the stern challenge at home. We must keep America strong. America’s strength comes in great part from her competitive economy, from free enterprise, from the private property profit and loss system.
The finest lesson that we may give to the young people of America is to teach them that the greatest freedom we enjoy is not freedom from want, it is the freedom to choose, it is the freedom to try, to compete, it is the freedom, yes, even to fail. But most of all it is the freedom to succeed as far as our initiative and our talent will take us.
Under our free enterprise system we have produced the highest standard of living the world has ever known. But the greatness of the system—the greatness of America—lies not in our material possessions, it lies in our individual right to persevere. It lies in the realm of ideas, for ideas are the necessary precursors of action; even the atomic missile will move to the measure of men’s thoughts. It lies not in our size as a country but in our nobility as a people—in our capacity for dedication to great causes; in our ability to live by and, if need be, to die for the timeless tenets of human conduct on which our country was founded. No struggle, no victory; no victory, no crown; no wilderness, no Moses; no Cross, no Christ.