December 21, 2012

A Different Perspective on a Timeless Message

As is tradition, holiday messaging this year includes reminders that this season is not about getting and spending, party planning, and the like—and rightly so. While there is much good we can point to in the world today, consumerism and materialism are tendencies we have not fully tamed. But if we are too particular we may lose sight of “the reason for the season,” for in every beautifully wrapped gift and every holiday feast is an expression of the very thanksgiving, wonder, and awe the holidays are meant to inspire.

Drawing on Leonard Read’s classic essay “I, Pencil,” a recent video from the Competitive Enterprise Institute reminds us the foundation of the standard of living we enjoy is truly miraculous. Even something as simple as a writing instrument entails an incredible tapestry of people, creativity, enterprise, and industry.

The standard of living we enjoy is the product of human beings who are free to choose new and better ways to acquire both the necessities and niceties of life. It is also the means by which we balance the excesses and shortcomings that remain, not only in terms of assisting those who are less fortunate but in serving the standards of social justice in a way that only free people and free markets can.

As we celebrate this holiday season, let’s all try to remember the story behind the holiday miracle, as the “I, Pencil” video so beautifully illustrates, remains alive and well in our world.

The video can be viewed at:       


Happy holidays to you and yours.


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640