REDISCOVERING AMERICAN VALUES: The Foundations of Our Freedom for the 21st Century by Dick DeVos

REDISCOVERING AMERICAN VALUES: The Foundations of Our Freedom for the 21st Century

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A successful executive's principled, persuasive pitch for the notion that freedom is anchored in cardinal virtues of the sort that helped make the US a leader among nations. The president of Amway Corp. (a closely held Michigan-based multinational whose annual revenues top $6 billion), DeVos gets down to business immediately, defining liberty as the ability to do what one wants, so long as it's the right thing to do. Dividing his anecdotal text into three parts, he first cites such values as compassion, fairness, honesty, humility, moral courage, self-discipline, and thoughtfulness as laudable means to the desirable end of upholding freedom. In a second section addressing self-reliance, or the frequently difficult job of becoming free, the author commends complementary qualities, in particular, accountability, commitment, cooperation, initiative, perseverance, and stewardship. For his concluding chapters on preserving freedom, he considers broader-gauge attributes, including brotherhood, charity, education, forgiveness, leadership, and service. An unabashed supporter of Judeo-Christian ethics and the golden rule, DeVos is at pains to ensure that readers do not confuse his concept of liberty with license. In his book, freedom involves real responsibilities to one's family, community, country, and fellow human beings. Nor does he engage in extended tirades against government, noting only that ""human dignity is better preserved when we restrain ourselves rather than when we have restraints imposed upon us by laws and law enforcement agencies."" By no coincidence, moreover, the vignettes he employs to illustrate his points attest to the efficacy of individual and grass-roots action. Perhaps best of all, the author manages the near-impossible task of extolling rectitude without lapsing into self-righteousness. A down-to-earth paean to simple goodness (with a foreword by former president Gerald R. Ford).

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1997
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Dutton