Imagination and Sympathy

Posted by on August 21, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads

Adam Smith believes that imagination and sympathy are the keys to understanding one’s place in the world. Adam says that imagination allows us to become impartial spectators of our own lives. According to Adam, we instinctively use our imaginations to put ourselves in the position of others so that we might judge our actions as they will; “What will people think?” Sympathy then allows us to predict how others will feel about the actions we are considering. Adam says we make most decisions this way.

Adam Smith could have become rich in advertising. Unfortunately, he was born in deep poverty in Kirkaldy, Scotland in 1723, fifty-three years before Thomas Jefferson penned America’s Declaration of Independence and thirty-six years after Isaac Newton first demonstrated the law of universal gravitation. Advertising wasn’t much of a career back then.

According to Adam, it was Isaac Newton’s discovery that caused him to wonder if analogous laws might be at work in human society. Adam Smith wanted to know, “What makes people do the things they do?” Specifically, he was concerned with the fate of common people and he wanted to help them. Adam’s father had died when he was an infant and he spent most of his life worrying about the fate of “Momma Smith” and thousands of others like her. His singular dream and goal was to help create an economy that would produce “opulence” for the common folk. Adam Smith wanted his Momma to have a better life.

At age fifty-three, Adam published a work which he had been writing for seventeen years; An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. The year was 1776. Momma Smith was gone before Adam’s dream could find a home, but a certain “Thomas Jefferson” would later call Adam Smith “the master of those who write about political economy.”

You may not hear it taught in history class, but the simple truth is that The American Dream was first born in the heart of a poor Scottish man who was deeply worried about his mother. You may think I’m crazy, but I feel that you and I owe a great debt to Momma Smith, and though she and her boy are gone now, there remain millions of others like her in our nation.

Patriotism won’t be found in the color of fireworks against an inky night sky. True patriotism is helping those who live in the inky dark night of poverty.

What are you doing for Momma Smith?

Roy H. Williams

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