Tuesday, September 11, 2007

"Daily Business Triumphant"

The following column by Paul Maidment was originally published on Sept. 11, 2002. It appears again today in Forbes. It is a thoughtful reminder that the routines of daily business are expressions of human freedom, hope, and opportunity.

"Daily Business Triumphant"

by Paul Maidment

New York -

I held it truth, with him who sings
To one clear harp in divers tones,
That men may rise on stepping-stones
Of their dead selves to higher things.
--- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Today should be a day of remembrance; foremost for the more than 3,000 victims of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.; second for what they innocently represented: the principles and values of free-market democracy.

The media plays a role in defining the appropriate response of a society to such terrible violence wrought upon it. In that respect, there is little we can add to the millions of words that have been exhaustively written and broadcast elsewhere. We honor those who died and the bravery of those who tried to save them. We celebrate the strength of those who survived.

Our path is clear. Free-market democracies must root out terrorists and their supporters. It is urgent work and nonetheless necessary for being testing. But the causes of terrorism will only be eradicated by spreading everywhere the prosperity, hope and opportunity that democratic capitalism creates.

Today a globalized world is replaying the struggle for primacy between theocracy and rationalism that the Western hemisphere resolved in the 17th and 18th centuries. America is arguably the supreme expression of rationalism triumphant, a republic of natural law, inherent freedoms and self-determination, which free enterprise nourishes.

That is why America is the focus of the terrorists' attacks. If those freedoms are diminished--either by external assault or by being dismantled internally--the terrorists win.

Those who perished on Sept. 11, 2001, were freely going about their daily business when the attacks occurred. Each in their own way was manifesting the extraordinary dynamism and creativity of a capitalist system that prizes and encourages people who, in Abraham Lincoln's words, try to improve their lot in life--and thereby the lot of us all.

For most of us, our most eloquent testimony to them this day, tomorrow and ever after is to do the same.

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