Letter from the President
We live in exciting times. Who among us is not thrilled to watch television and see yet another population marching for freedom and liberty. Such events are contagious. People watching Al Jazeera or CNN start to believe that they too just might get the right to vote in a free and fair election.
There are times in history, and I believe we are living in one such, whereby one national event will impact all of us so much that it will be replicated in other nations as well. Liberty has that effect on people. In 1789, news didn't travel as fast as it does today, but the French Revolution followed our Declaration of Independence by only 13 years. In modern times, we can remember the dramatic events in Eastern Europe following the decline of the Soviet Union. One nation after another voted for independence and an attempt to establish its own destiny.
Evidence the recent revolution in Tunisia. One thoughtless act of oppression too many and a man set fire to himself in the middle of the capital city. The sparks from this fire set the nation ablaze; and the long oppressed country revolted.
The freedoms following this successful revolt were so exciting to other young people in the Middle East that Egypt was next to fall. Television, Facebook and Twitter carried these convulsive events minute by minute throughout the world.
It continues to develop and evolve, with demonstrations exploding throughout the Middle East.
I wonder how often we pause to reflect on how extraordinarily fortunate we are to live in a country with such a wonderfully crafted constitution, listing and guaranteeing those basic rights each of us has learned to cherish. Life under an oligarchy of the privileged (or a dictatorship) is an ugly experience most of us have not had.
Yet when we witness the events of recent weeks, of so many citizens risking terrible torture, even their very lives, to demonstrate against such governments, we should again give thanks for what we have. Whether in the USA or Germany, we are residing with federal law protecting each citizen. There is more: these concepts of universal human dignity are part of the culture and part of the fundamental beliefs of those in power, witnessed by a free and open press which helps to ensure such rights.
Moving on: our AGBC website, and all the associated IT functions, is a work in progress. Although we evidence improvement from month to month, I'm anxious for that day when we can brag about its capabilities (coming soon I hope).
This is the slow period for foot soldier work in our Entrepreneur of Tomorrow (EOT) Program. But it's never too early to look for volunteers to help with mentoring student candidates, or talking to school administrators to share program information with their students. A few of our chapters are active with the EOT; but it's a program we want to expand.
Along with individual chapter representatives, our National Board meets twice/year, each time being hosted in a different city. That chapter's board then arranges the meeting (usually on a Saturday) along with a weekend full of fun. In addition to our big meeting, we are tourists, get to visit some select restaurants and generally have a great time.
Our next host is the Munich Chapter, providing us all with a magnificent soiree' during the weekend of 14/15 May. Saturday morning will feature a number of presentations at the good offices of KPMG Corp. and the National Board Meeting will be during the afternoon. I'm rather certain we shall be "out to dinner" for the evening; and I expect a number of other events to be announced for our dalliance during your visit. Any member from any chapter is invited to our national meetings. So this might be a great opportunity to visit Munich and join us. Stay tuned for updated information.
Going forward in this fast moving new decade, it's essential we retain a modicum of respect and deference in our relations, whether national, business or personal. To not do so can sometimes result in events we surely don't want. Following that horrible shooting spree in Tucson, President Obama flew in to address the country during the memorial service. He crafted a most compelling speech to all of us to refer to each other with dignity and respect, to do away with the hateful commentary which can help to ignite such hate in those without proportion.
In conclusion, I think back to the efforts we make to get our citizens out to vote, just to get a good majority. Egypt will soon offer its first free vote. Will they have trouble getting their people out to vote? Do you doubt the kind of turnout they will have? I remind you that it's a lot harder to get a free vote back than to exercise the one you have. Don't ever risk losing it. What more do we really need for a Happy New Year?
Barry E. Swanson, CFP