People tend to think of themselves as individuals, but are they; really? I think the only time we are truly individuals is the moment we take our first breath of air outside the womb; from that point forward we begin being susceptible to the influences of others who shape and mold us into what we will become as adults. But what sets us apart from all the other creatures of the Earth is our brain; our ability to think, to reason, and come to conclusions based upon a careful examination of facts. We may be a part of the great teeming mass of society, but we don’t have to have a herd mentality to survive; we can still strive to be individuals.
To me, the idea of being an individual means one who has come to a set of beliefs based upon study and a great deal of thought, and then remains true to their beliefs no matter how much opposition or harassment they encounter. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I have always been a rebel, an outsider; I’ve never really cared about what others thought of me. So for me, being an individual is much easier that it is for one who has grown up surrounded by friends; who has grown accustomed to having those of like mind surrounding them.
Sure, there have been times where I have tried to fit in, but it failed miserably as I felt I was betraying myself and simply could not abide being me if I was not true to my beliefs. This is not to say that I do not speak with, or associate with others; that is hardly the case. I simply do not put on a mask when I’m around others; they either accept me for who and what I am or they can, to put it bluntly, kiss my ass.
You might be asking why the departure from political discussions for Neal. Well, it is not a departure; it is a setting of the stage for the comments to follow. If I were to ask you what single principle America was founded upon, how would you respond? Would you say liberty, freedom, or some other patriotic sounding catch-phrase? I may be alone in my thoughts on this, but I would say America was founded on individualism.
When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence he said that all men are created equal. I can’t be sure of what was going through Jefferson’s mind when he wrote those words, but I would like to venture out on a limb and make an educated guess that he didn’t mean that all men are born into life with perfect equality. I think what he meant was that we all have the same basic features as human beings; even though some of us may have been born into wealth, some born into bondage, and some born somewhere in between.
As equals our voice in political affairs carries no more, and no less weight and importance than the voice of the next person. Just because a person is born into a life of luxury does not give their opinions any more importance than the opinions of some homeless panhandler; in that we are all truly equal. Why is it then that the opinions of people in certain positions seem to be given more weight, more credence, than the thoughts of some common laborer such as myself? Why is it that the endless hours of study I have devoted to learning the true history of the founding of this country is given less credibility than some paid shill sitting behind a news anchor desk?
As individuals we are all equal in something else; the enjoyment of our inherent and unalienable rights. As an individual I cannot demand that anyone else stop exercising a right simply because I do not like it. I cannot tell people to shut up simply because I do not like what they are saying; I cannot tell people to stop going to sporting events because they do not interest me; I cannot tell people to stop eating certain things because I find them gross and offensive. If I cannot do these things as an individual, what gives anyone the right to form into groups of like minded individuals and force their will upon other smaller groups; or the individual?
I hear all this talk out of people who say that they support minority groups, yet turn around and deny others their unalienable rights because they disagree with them. Ayn Rand said something you really ought to think about if that description so happens to describe you, “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”
Our country was founded by men who believed in the concept of individuality; that each of us is born with the same gifts, the same rights as the next person; and that our success or failure in life was to be based upon how well we utilized the opportunities that were available to us. You may think these ideas old fashioned and out of touch with modern times, but nonetheless they are what our Founders believed in; and the principles upon which this country and its system of government were established. Jefferson said as much in his first Inaugural Address, “A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”
How anyone can claim to be a believer in the concept of individuality, yet seek to force their views on others is beyond me. At the same time, how can anyone claim to believe in individuality yet require that society provide for their sustenance and needs? If you were to ask me what defines individuality I think I would have to say self-sufficiency. Unless you live totally off the grid; growing your own food, producing your own electricity and pumping your own water, everyone is somewhat dependent upon others for their sustenance; we all need jobs to survive in today’s modern world.
But that does not mean we still cannot be self-sufficient to a certain extent. If one lives within their means, they are relatively self-sufficient. If one does not expect others to come to their aid in times of crisis or danger they are relatively self-sufficient. The more we rely upon other for our own needs, the less self-sufficient we are and the further enslaved become.
You know, Thomas Jefferson said a lot of things that people would do well to read and think about. But as to this idea of self-sufficiency versus dependency Jefferson said one thing I think people ought to give a great deal of thought to, “Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.”
To put that in terms you may understand, if people know that you rely upon them for your very survival they can begin to use that dependence to begin forcing you to comply with their will. Ambition, greed, and the lust for power are powerful emotions and when someone can exercise them at the expense of your rights, your individuality, who do you think suffers? The answer certainly isn’t those who hold power over you; that’s for sure.
In the arguments for all these social programs aimed at helping those in need, I hear some pretty wild comments. For instance, there are those who claim that a woman’s body is her own and nobody has the right to tell her she cannot seek an abortion if she wants one. Fine, all accept that for the sake of argument. But then these same people then turn around and expect those people who have no say in the matter to provide the funding for these abortions via tax funded clinics.
You see, the thing most people fail to understand about being an individual is that they alone are responsible for the consequences of their choices and actions. Forcing others to shoulder the burden of their choices diminishes the individuality and freedom of those who are being imposed upon to accept responsibility for decisions that they did not make.
I want to share two quotes with you now; one from the fiction novel Atlas Shrugged, and the other from former President Theodore Roosevelt. Both discuss the concept of what it means to truly be an individual.
“I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” (Source: John Galt’s motto from Atlas Shrugged)
“If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs.” (Source: American Ideals and Other Essays, Social and Political-Theodore Roosevelt)
Just out of curiosity, how many of you can say that those are your core beliefs as individuals, or are you among those who believe that it is society, and by proxy, governments responsibility to provide us with the things we are unable, or unwilling to provide for ourselves?
If government was truly established to secure our rights and protect our liberty, then it follows that it was also established to ensure that we could live our lives as individuals free of its coercive power in the living of our lives. Yet how many laws has government passed which tell us what we can and cannot do? The most grievous of these are the laws which restrict our unalienable rights, particularly those protected by Constitutional Amendment. But people don’t care about liberty, they don’t care about freedom; they only care about feeling safe and secure.
Well, there is a quote that Thomas Jefferson was fond of that stated, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” The more you sacrifice your rights for the sense of safety it provides you, the more enslaved you become to those who provide you with that security. The same goes for those who rely upon government programs for their sustenance and survival; the more dependent upon those programs you become the more enslaved to those who provide them YOU become.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t bring political party loyalty into the mix; as it is the bane of individuality. It matters little to me if you call yourselves Democrats or Republicans, what matters to me is how much you stand for freedom and individual liberty. When you allow a bunch of political hacks at your respective party headquarters to dictate policy and then provide you with candidates that only adhere to the policies outlined by the respective party, is that really you being an individual; or are you just a tool that is being used to further the specific agenda of your party? Or to put it another way, are you voting for what you believe in, or what the party tells you that you should believe in?
Think about that, would you?
The truest individuals in this country are those who stand for Libertarian principles; they are those who voted for Ron Paul when he ran; even though there were times I personally questioned Dr. Paul’s claim to the title of a strict Constitutionalist.
Nevertheless, the things he said and what he claimed to stand for were the very things I have spoken of; individual liberty and a free market system which is free of oppressive governmental regulations.
The sad thing is that I would imagine there are many a Republican who in reality is a closet Libertarian but is afraid to admit it because they want to be part of a team that stands a snowballs chance in hell of winning an election.
But is that being honest with yourself; with who you are and what you truly believe in? A real individual wouldn’t care when people told them their candidate could not win. You know, former President John Quincy Adams said something I wished more people would adhere to, “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
So my question to you is; are you an individual, or are you a sheep who prefers to follow the herd wherever it may go; even to destruction of all that this country was founded upon. I leave you to ponder those thoughts while I attend to a few household chores.
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross, Student of history, politics, patriot and staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Send all comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you liked Neal’s latest column, maybe you’ll like his latest booklet: The Civil War: (The Truth You Have Not Been Told) AND don’t forget to pick up your copy of ROSS: Unmasked – An Angry American Speaks Out – and stay tuned – Neal has a new, greatly expanded book coming soon dealing with the harsh truths about the so-called American Civil War of 1861-1865. Life continues to expand for this prolific writer and guardian of TRUE American history.