The following are my own thoughts on the concepts of freedom and independence. I am not a philosopher (at least, not of any note), nor am I an "expert" on any particular subject. I am, however, a functioning, sentient, thinking being - as are most people who are capable of operating a computer. Today's question is: Are the values of freedom and independence intrinsic or extrinsic values? (Which brings up two adjunct questions: 1. if they are either - or both - are they equally valued by individuals around the world and 2. if they are not universal values how are they regionally divided?
The dictionary defines freedom as: "1 : the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another c : the capacity to exercise choice; free will". Freedom is an intrinsic value in that it does have worth in and of itself, and there can be no price tag upon a philosophical construct. I believe that - from infancy - human beings have a desire to exercise freedom. I also believe that from the moment of birth, our social environment does everything it can to prevent us from being truly free. We are "free" only so long as we function within certain, written and unwritten social guidelines, unless we live alone... on an otherwise deserted island. Living within a society requires that we learn the culture and customs of that society, and our indoctrination begins shortly after birth. Many of these customs have become rules, which our society calls laws. For breaking a written rule/law there are prescribed punishments which vary depending upon the socially perceived seriousness of the offense. How free do you feel?
Independence is defined as - "The state or quality of being independent; freedom from dependence; exemption from reliance on, or control by, others; self-subsistence or maintenance; direction of one's own affairs without interference." Once upon a time, Americans were highly independent, both individually and as a national body. There was a certain, limited amount of interdependence - from the time of the pilgrims until the mid-20th century. During colonial era, time were hard and resources were limited. Settlements were small and necessarily close-knit, and the need for interdependence was high in the areas of food production and settlement security. Neighbors helped neighbors... not because of some mandate from the King or some appointed Governor, but because they "were all in it together", and individual successes were the keystone to group successes, and there was safety in numbers. This social kinship continued through the American Revolution, the American Civil War (naturally restricted to being kept within the geographical boundaries of the land areas [North-South]occupied by the combatants). As the country expanded westward during the 1800's and western territories were populated by pioneers, the established eastern states were considered the production centers of the U.S.A., a distinction they maintained until the 20th century. Unfortunately, the latter half of the 20th century was when things began to change. For the most-part, through the 1950's neighbors still watched out for neighbors, although some deterioration of this cultural trait was beginning to be felt in the major metropolitan areas, like New York, Atlanta, Detroit Dallas and Chicago. If the Jones kid was being a little jerk, Mister or Missus Smith would "give him what for", and then insure that his parents were informed at the earliest possible time. People still went to town and left the windows of their home open in the summer, and didn't make a habit of locking their doors at any time of the day or night. Rarely would an automobile be found locked. Why? Because they knew that somebody in the neighborhood was paying attention to what went on, and that person wasn't the least worried about "getting involved". The moral and social decay within the US began in the 1960's with the "drug culture". Suddenly many people either didn't know their neighbors, or knew them too well and opted not to associate with them. The trust was lost - only to be replaced by suspicion and fear. And, with the loss of trust, the neighborly bond was also broken. What was good, and had worked so well for the neighborhood, was replaced by the "ME generation". The question went from "What can I do to help you?" to "What's in it for me if I help you?" Nonetheless, I still believe that human beings are born with a desire for independence, but in many cases that person is ridiculed by their peers - "Whatchoo mean you wanna J.O.B.? Fool, you can be supported by the gubmint and not have to hit a lick!". In many other
instances people are born into a "welfare family" and lose whatever ambitions they may have had to become independent. Today, the welfare community grows by leaps and bounds, as the tax base supported by those who are employed - and actually work for a living - shrinks. Can you understand how eventually we will wind up with many more "grasshoppers" than the "ants" can support? Yet our government continues to spend tax money supporting the indolent, thereby forcing us ever closer to becoming a socialist country. Socialism works... until you run out of other people's money. Are you truly independent... or are you a part of the problem?
We cannot call ourselves "independent" when we desire, request and expect the government to take care of all our needs.
Our freedoms and our independence are being leeched away, and the general population doesn't even seem to notice... or perhaps they just don't care. Either condition is deplorable.
(I shortened this posting substantially, so I could turn my attention to a more serious issue facing America. Don't touch your dial... )