Individual Freedom - The Shock of the American Revolution
Individual Freedom And The American Revolution
At times we think of America as the perpetrator of many ills, as the initiator of endless wars and the somewhat uncomfortable super power to have around. We point to policies of world wide domination and to invasive curbs on freedom ... put in practice to "secure the homeland". Many do not believe that those trends are healthy for our future as a species, and I admit I am among them.
But in the midst of all of these doubts let us not forget the unique heritage America has given to the world, if not in deed at least in thought and concept. And let us not forget that a government is rarely a faithful mirror of the will of the people living under it or that, in the end, it will be the people to decide which way to go.
America gives us the idea of individual freedom enshrined in law.
Contrary to what we may be led to believe, the world does not run on money, nor does it run on the raw power of weapons or on deceit based in secrecy ... in the final analysis the world runs on ideas.
Jon Rappoport explains this more eloquently than I can in a moving article, just as we pass from 2010 to 2011. He seems to say do not despair. The American Revolution gave us something. We just need to use it ... every one of us, whether we live in America or somewhere else on this planet.
THE SHOCK OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
DECEMBER 31, 2010. It was one thing to separate from England; it was another thing entirely to produce the idea of individual freedom as a natural fact and a political goal.
The first act did not necessarily lead to the second.
Indeed, the exile of the King from American affairs and the cancellation of the taxes laid on by the monarchy could have been the prelude to a new state of tyranny on these shores.
In several respects, this turned out to be the case, but not before the idea of freedom was enunciated for all time...
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With the ringing of that bell, definite principles and consequences flowed with great surety.
One person living in freedom could not legally limit the freedom of another.
Freedom meant a condition of self-sufficiency. It meant independence from any invasive and crowding authority.
It meant responsibility for one's actions, rather than excuses to escape consequences.
It meant that decisions on how to live one's life were unique to each individual-and if this principle was followed, society would reflect an astonishing diversity.
It meant that social conformity was no longer a desirable goal.
It meant that wide consensus was not a necessary requirement for individual actions.
With these ideas in tow, one would expect a nation in which ideas, innovations, modes of living, and communities were extraordinarily various-each difference and distinction backed up by energetic passion.
Creativity and imagination would play out to the fullest extent on a wide field.
Is that what happened?
In many respects, the answer is no.
But time does not destroy ideas.
Everything stated and implied by the shocking establishment of freedom is as true today as it was 200-plus years ago.
In that sense, philosophy always trumps life.
Anyone, at any time, can pick up the torch.
Implicit in the idea of freedom is the question: what is freedom for?
That question arises, because freedom is not an action. It is a feeling, a state of mind, a potential.
It is the setting for whatever is to come, whatever will be done by the individual.
Freedom, obviously, is for making choices. If those choices are spooled out by some sort of inner necessity and compelling impulse, then the whole idea of freedom is negated in the cradle.
Therefore, the very notion of freedom implies that the choices made are, or can be, freely taken.
Freely made choices open the door to an understanding of what "choice" really means.
It means "created."
A person does not merely choose. He creates those choices.
He is essentially and deeply creative.
And this changes everything.
No longer are we envisioning an individual who is bound and irresistibly driven forward by inner forces, or by a past whose events predetermine his future.
None of this speculative "psychcologizing" is relevant.
Free is free.
There is latitude. There is space.
Imagination and creativity overlap.
All of this is implied and derived from the declaration of individual freedom that is at the heart of the formation of the American Republic.
Then why do we see a surprisingly uniform landscape in this country?
Why haven't the unique creations of millions of individuals caused a stunningly wide diversity of outcomes that are quite visible?
Why are we caught up in a spreading sameness?
Ultimately, the answer is simple: people have chosen to be like one another.
Adducing reasons for this are really beside the point. If the individual does have the freedom to make his own unique creation of his future, then he can change his decision to be like his neighbor.
He can change that.
That change is also part of what freedom means.
An unconscionable tonnage of literature and verbiage have been spent describing all the ways in which the individual is limited and hemmed in and shaped by forces over which he has no control. Indeed, in some quarters, this notion of determinism is applauded and elevated to a high perch.
It is all, in the end, wasted, because the individual can be free.
The expanse of that freedom has no psychological boundaries.
This idea strikes fear in the hearts of people who want to pile complexity on complexity in deciphering the so-called human condition. Inevitably, such "investigations" consign the individual to an unfree status.
But two centuries ago, a small group of men announced to the world that a different destiny awaited us.
They made political separation from a monarchy into a far more profound declaration.
We hold that legacy today, not only as an historical connection, but also as a depiction of what we really are.
What we do with it is up to each one of us.
No potential anywhere has the power of individual freedom.
When we consult our desires in deciding what we want to create in this world, we would do well to consider the enormous breadth and depth of the freedom on which all creation is based-so that our choices and actions do more than scratch the surface of our imaginations.
We are not small; we are, when all is said and done, infinite.