Monday, December 8, 2014

The American Choice: Society Versus Alienation

The eternal struggle between the individual and the community is one that will plague the human race for the rest of eternity. In every society, of any scale, norms develop that are expected to be reached by the participants of the society. Interestingly enough, the founding fathers of our wonderful nation seem to have been well aware of these tensions, and constructed our constitution to create a balance in this struggle. Most easily derived from the first amendment of the bill of rights, our rights to free speech, free press, and free religion provide citizens with their inherent right to live as they so choose, and to pursue happiness in whatever manner they wish, whether that lifestyle is approved of by the masses or not. America was originally one of the only places in the world that founded itself upon these rights. As long as one's way of life doesn't infringe upon the inherent rights of others, then by law, the lifestyle is acceptable.

This pattern was apparent in America even before the founding of the Union. One of the chief attributes of Colonial America that set it apart from the rest of the world was its massive amount of religious diversity (within the realm of Christianity, which was a big deal back then). Each of these religious parties lived as a part of a greater whole within the colonies, but they all managed to tolerate each other and deal with all of the other simultaneously existing sub-societies. A perfect example of one of these sub-societies is the Puritans. They came to America not for general religious freedom, but for the freedom to practice their religion. And they were granted that freedom. They established their "city on the hill" but their society would never have absolute power over the rest of the colonies and its citizens. If somebody within the Puritan society disapproved of the society's practices, they could leave. And the colonies provided plenty of other subsociety's that might meet that person's standards. But every society has standards, and requires a certain degree of conformation in order to let that individual be accepted. Nonetheless, if somebody wishes not to conform, and to live in a manner that is truly free and individualistic, he can. He can build a cabin in the wilderness and alienate himself, for example. This still holds true today. If somebody wishes to remove himself from our outlandishly complex corporate-based society, and completely exit the dead-end materialistic money game, then he can. The American citizen has the power to remove himself entirely from the burdens of society, or to participate in one of our many sub-societies. In either case, he can thrive. This right to choose was granted by our founding fathers, and it makes our nation great.

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