Monday, April 07, 2008

Freedom means Individualism

Grandpa was asked to speak at local gathering that featured many prominant men of the area and these were the words he spoke,

"When this nation began, it was founded upon Individualism. It was not a nation started where people were divided up into groups. It was not started where one group of persons was meant to be seen as lords over another group. It began with the concept that there be but one group, the class of the people. Moreover, it began with the intent that a government should treat each member of that singular group as an equal.

While it was recognized that there were many individual groups, each different from the rest. Our nation was founded on the idea that no matter of the inequality of these groups each group was to be treated no differently than the rest of the groups. And these groups were called states. The Senate of U.S. Congress is proof of that. Each state is given equal representation though they are unequal in size and population, even natural resources.

The same goes with individual persons. Though they are unequal, the Constitution says nothing about the idea of creating equality amongst individuals of society. It says nothing about the equality of rights as so many advocate, only equality of treatment by their government.

There was no attempt on the part of the Constitution to create equality of the groups. There was no attempt to change the boundaries to make the states equal in size. There was no attempt to relocate persons from one state to another to make the states equal in population. There was no attempt to redistribute the proceeds of any natural resource so that it is equally shared.

There was no attempt on the part of the Constitution to create equality of persons. Each person was allowed to seek his own level within society. The creation of equality among men requires the government to see, perceive and divide society up into unequal groups before it can create equality. That is not the purpose and intent of its existence. Its purpose and intent is only to govern that society by laws not by feelings.

We are individuals. That is what we are first and foremost. Moreover, as individuals there is no one like us. We have no equal. Our skin color, our age, our gender, our religious beliefs, our nationality, they all are a part of our identity as an individual. Why do we allow just one of those attributes identify us? When we allow someone to identify us by just one attribute we become a member of a class of people within the class of people.

We are not a nation of white people, black people, brown people or yellow people. We are a nation of people. That is what the Constitutions says. That is just the way the Constitution requires that our government see us. Let Sociology divide our nation into classes if it wants. However, just because they do does not mean we should follow their example. In addition, the government is not allowed to if it follows the Constitution.

We are individuals. As individuals, we gathered in a pact that is called the Constitution. Moreover, the premise in that pact is freedom for the individual, not only of the person but also of the individual states. Freedom is the opportunity not only to succeed but also to fail. It is not just the opportunity to succeed. It guarantees nothing, except opportunity. It is out of freedom and individualism that we had a barn raising last week. And each of us went home with a feeling of accomplishment after we raised that barn.

There is no one that knows and appreciates what freedom means more than man who knows what it means to be enslaved. There is no one who knows and appreciates the idea of what being an individual means more than a man who was treated like one of a chattel of cattle. There is no one that knows the feeling of being in a yoke than one who wore one a great part of his life.

So, my people, let’s take the advice of such a man. Hear his words. Take them to heart. Teach them to your children. For no truer words were spoken, no lesson more valuable if one is to claim freedom. Heed them or know your own enslavement. They were spoken once before and they be repeated here. They be the words of one man and that man be Frederick Douglas.

'The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us... I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! ... And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! ... your interference is doing him positive injury.' "

When grandpa finished his speech the deafening sound of silence came across the crowd. The reason for the silence, I don't know but I do know how proud I was of grandpa this day and as I looked at grandma I saw a tear rolling down her cheek.


Gayle said...

If only everyone would understand this, Griper. It's so very frustrating that they don't!

Because of the comment you left on my last blog I was going to come in and say: "she walked in, saw the post, smiled and wondered if she should start a debate." Well, you really threw a wrench into my little plan because I can't find anything in this post to debate. *sigh* I should have known that would happen. :)

The Griper said...

ahhh thank you, gayle, no nicer compliment could i have gotten than one like you just gave me.

tweetey30 said...

I was going to say something according to what Gayle said but she got to it first. I mean people dont think about the constitution like this anymore. I wish there were more people that realized this.

Lista said...

Hi Griper,

Sorry to break up this little love fest, but I have something to say.

It seems to me that groups were initially formed not by the government, nor by sociology, but by the people themselves and the reason being because the voice of a single individual gets drown out by the crowd, but there is power in numbers. The only way for an individual voice to be made louder is for the individual to seek out others who feel the same way and become a crowd or a group, thus the formation of political groups.

The representation of the states is not actually a complete representation of the people, for an elected representative can be elected by as little as 51% of the people in that state. Political activists groups are the true voice of the people. Yes, there are special interests groups out there as well, yet many activists groups reflect the voice of common people who have united their voices with others.

The reason that sometimes groups appear to be divided by class is that the people within each class have similar needs and concerns. For the most part, though, political groups are formed based on common beliefs and political concerns. To break up the voices of these groups would weaken the voice of the people.

The Frederick Douglas quote includes reference to a time in which the government was doing too much for the black community. I remember reading something about this lately, but my memory of it is vague.

The main thing that comes to mind now in relation to this is the concept “If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, he will eat for a life time.”

The problem with Government, Griper, is that so often they do things in accordance with one extreme or the other. The big Government Assistance Programs that are pushed by the Democrats too often only give men fish. The programs offered by the Republicans, however, sometimes do not go far enough, because sometimes there are just as many emotional obstacles to success as there is lack of skills. Republicans too often only teach skills and than expect people to go out there and either sink or fly. And sometimes they will even go so far as to beat up the injured and fearful by accusing them of stupidity, lack of discipline and laziness. I happen to believe in Counseling and Encouragement.

The Griper said...

as you worded your argument i will agree with most of it. yes, people do form groups themselves. but if you read my post again i never said that governments or Sociology form groups.

and i don't believe that i said anything that would lead a person to think in the contrary. if i am wrong on that i apologize. if you will point out where it led you to believe that i will rewrite it to be more clear in my intent.

the point of my argument here is that government is not allowed to pass laws that favors one group over another. and that is exactly what happens when we view society as a bunch of groups rather than as a singular group.

if a person votes in accordance to his own interests, groups result from that vote because of the nature of voting. the difference being is that groups are not formed first and then vote as a bloc but groups are determined after the vote where the vote separates people up into groups.

and yes 51% does represent the whole group. that is the nature of using the democratic process for making decisions. without that recognition we have a dictatorship in regards to making decisions.

what our Constitution does though is make some decisions harder than others.
it takes a 75% majority rather than 51% to make the decision to amend the Consitution.

how many times have you heard that it was "Congress" that passed a law? now, does that mean that it was passed unanimously? no. the same goes for the Supreme Court. you hear that the Court declared something unconstituotional. does that mean all 9 judges voted that way? no. but it does say that the majority has the right to speak for all, once that vote is known.

and the point of my quote was that freedom, if we are to have it, must include the freedom to fail. it cannot be declared freedom when it only applies to success. and if we are to declare we have a free will we cannot claim credit for our successes then turn around and blame something else for our failures.
and it means that we have no right to claim the benefits of our successes then turn around and make those who succeeded pay the consequences of our failures.

that is a concept of socialism
and why it enjoys so much popularity. it is because it promises that no one will fail. it fails to take into account the fact that when one man fails everyone fails because eveyone is in the same boat as the one who failed.

Lista said...

I'm not sure how you are going to persuade the government to not pass laws that favor one group over another. People form Political Activist Groups because it is too hard for one single individual to be heard. Once these Activist Groups are formed, which group do you listen to? It's hard to write a law that is truly fair to both sides. It's impossible to fully please everyone, so no matter what a politician does someone is going to be unhappy.

I agree with your statement that groups should be determined after the vote, whether than "people voting as a bloc" according to an assigned group. I wasn't only talking about voting, though. I was speaking of Political Groups and Lobbyists. These groups are continually putting pressure on Senators and Congress Men to consider their cause.

Failure isn't a freedom, Griper. It's something that just happens to us and unfortunately, one of my very first lessons in life was that it is not just those who do not try that fail.

There shouldn't be such consequences for handicaps and human weaknesses. Sin should have consequences and indeed it does, but SOME CONSEQUENCES ARE NOT SELF INFLICTED.

I'm not suggesting that socialism is the solution. It is not. I'm just saying that the idea that you are calling "a concept of socialism" has some truth to it. Socialism is not the answer, but brutal Capitalism that removes all forms of social assistance is not the answer either. We need to figure out a solution that's reasonable and helps even the weak find some small level of reasonable existence.

As you pointed out in your response to my blog, the commonalities within the states used to be more prevalent in our history than they are now. Now, however, states are not groups of people formed based on common beliefs and needs like Lobbying Groups are. They are simply geographical groups.

Let's see. I guess the statement that led me to believe that governments or Sociology forms groups was "Let Sociology divide our nation into classes if it wants. However, just because they do does not mean we should follow their example."

You know, when I read the "About Me" section of your blog, I was right away curious about it. I guess I've never had problems with being defined in accordance with a group or class.

I'm not sure why, but I've always been an individual, or actually sort of an odd ball, struggling to fit in. A descriptive word that is often used to describe me is "unique". I spent a good portion of my life, not struggling against stereotypes, but just the opposite. My struggle was to break into the click and fit in. My struggle was not to find some unique identity. I already had that. My struggle was to be accepted, to belong, to be part of a group.

Sometimes if we understand why we disagree on something it is easier to accept the other point of view and realize that it's just as valid. Sure it's no fun being stereotyped, but it's also no fun being left out of the group.

I'm always going to be an individual. I'm just too weird not to be.

The Griper said...

a very good argument. now let's examine it.

"I was speaking of Political Groups and Lobbyists. These groups are continually putting pressure on Senators and Congress Men to consider their cause."

that is true but these groups were formed after government decided to divide the country into groups an write laws in favor of one group over another. if government went back to writing laws only for the "common welfare" of the country these groups have no reason to exist. because then the laws affect everyone the same.

"Failure isn't a freedom, Griper."
no its not in and of itself. failure is but one result of freedom. success be the other. freedom is the right to make our own decisions and when we do we must accept the results of that decision. think in terms of results of decisions not in terms of persons when thinking failure. it is when a person gives up that he becomes the failure as a person.

"There shouldn't be such consequences for handicaps and human weaknesses."
this is what makes our state of existence imperfect, lista. it is by overcoming these weaknesses that we become stronger as human beings. sin itself is the giving in to those human weaknesses. as for handicaps, we have the ability to compensate for them in our endeavors. everyone has human weaknesses and everyone has handicaps. it is that some are more visible or apparent than others.

point being, when the Constitutions says "People" it means everyone it doesn't distinquish between the rich man and poor man. it doesn't distinquish between a black man and a white man. it doesn't distinquish between a business man and employee. it was meant to address all of them equally. it doesn't distinquish between a weak man or a strong man. it doesn't distinquish between the dominant and minority or subordinant. every society possesses people as these.
our history has been a history of struggle between these groups but history also shows that it is the people themselves that have overcome these struggles best.

when it was government that sticks its nose into those struggles it has just created new struggles along the same line but maybe defined a little differently. and once government does guess what? we have two more political groups trying to get government to pass laws in their favor.

and we have one political party that thrives by distinquishing between groups and pretending to be on the side of one of them and accusing the other it is on the other side.

Lista said...

Hi Griper,

I'm sorry if I reacted a little yesterday. Here's what I wrote relating to your post, but haven't submitted until now...

Are you referring to laws that favored one state over another? What is the "Common Welfare" of the country? Isn't that subject to debate?

There are limited options available to those with limited abilities. It is really hard for me to think of failure as the result of poor decisions because sometimes it just seems to happen and even in hindsight, sometimes it is really difficult to figure out what went wrong. That's how the fear comes in, if we can't figure out what we did wrong, how can we protect ourselves from experiencing it again?

I don't know what causes the situation in which one never actually learns how to compensate for the handicaps in his or her life, I only know that it happens and it's sad.

If the word weakness is going to be used to refer to the spiritual battles in areas of sin and the word handicap is used in relation to ones ability to function in the job world, than I’d have to say that I've overcome a lot of weaknesses in my life, but as to handicaps, that just feels like a continuous unanswered prayer and unfortunately, I have the less visible kind, so I don't get much sympathy.

I do understand about the decision to give up, though. I'm not going to claim that that is just something that happens to someone, even though it may feel like that at times. No, giving up is a decision that can't be denied and it’s not the correct one.

As I think about this, I am reminded of a scripture;

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Revelations 2:7, KJV.

There are actually a whole serious of "overcometh" verses, each with it's own set of rewards listed for those who overcome.

This doesn't just refer to sin either. It also refers to other things such a fear, for fear is the opposite of faith. I know these things. I really do, but life is so hard sometimes.

Laws don’t affect everyone the same, Griper. Some laws are designed to protect employees from their employers; other laws are designed to protect businesses from each other, such as things relating to monopolies. Still other laws are designed to protect consumers. Laws are there to protect us from each other. Sometimes the Government acts as a judge between the conflicts between the groups within society and we are not going to get past these conflicts by denying that these groups exist. You even said yourself that "Every society possesses people such as these." And "Our history has been a history of struggle between these groups."

I guess what you are implying is that the people themselves can work out these struggles and I guess that’s where we disagree. I also do not think that it is the government that initially "sticks its nose into those struggles". No, I think the struggles occur first and then the political groups and than the government involvement. You have the order all turned around.

As to political parties thriving on "distinguishing between groups and pretending to be on the side of one of them.", I think that is a separate issue and has to do more with Prejudice than with Political Activism. This practice might cause Political Activism, but this is not the type of Activism I’m talking about, for valid causes do in fact exist.

The Griper said...

"What is the "Common Welfare" of the country? Isn't that subject to debate?"

i wouldn't think it is subject to debate. for the states joined for the common welfare. the most important one being the common defense of their existence, independence, and liberty that fought so hard to get.

"It is really hard for me to think of failure as the result of poor decisions... "

maybe i need to clarify myself on this. i'm not thinking in terms of the person here. i'm thinking in terms of the decision vs results only. we all make decisions that fail to bring the results we hope for at times. thus, in order to obtain the result we hope for required a different decision than the one we made. that is my meaning of poor decision here. it may have appeared to be a good decision at the time we made it but the results declared it a poor decision. and we need to accept that because there is always a possibility of that in every decision we make. we just never realize that and very seldom think of that possibility. and it ends up effecting the person in experiencing that result.

"I have the less visible kind, so I don't get much sympathy."

true, i grant you. but i learned something very late in life. do not expect sympathy and you will never be disappointed when you don't get it.

"No, I think the struggles occur first and then the political groups and than the government involvement. You have the order all turned around."

no, i agree with that. government wouldn't stick its nose in unless that was true. struggles do begin first. if i had it otherwise i'd be saying that government was attempting to prevent the struggle and that is impossible in reality. you can't prevent something that does not exist yet. you can only think you did.

"Laws are there to protect us from each other."

laws do not protect, lista. if they did there'd be no crime. all laws do is give government the right to penalize the person who did the act. people can only protect themselves from any wrong doing. if someone steals from you, lista, how did the law protect from that act?

and of course groups exist and every one of us belongs to a group of some kind. my point is that we should not just perceive ourselves as a member of a group and we are going into that direction more and more in this country.

remember as a member of a group you are known by that singular attribute of the identity of that group. as an individual my identity is all my attributes that serve identify me and me alone.

prejudice and bias are the direct result of being seen as a member of a group. and so is sterotyping.

as an individual none of these can occur because there is no one to associate me with other then myself. that is not denying that i am a member of a group but what it does is to see myself as i am in totality without that association.

i can say i am a member of society thus associate myself with it or i can say i am an individual who helps make up a society. by saying it this way i force you to see me as a person and to get to know me requires you to know what i am made up from not what identifies that certain society.

Lista said...

Hi Griper,

I guess I'm beginning to feel like I'm getting caught up in an issue that it is probably time to move on from, but I had decided that I was going to revisit the discussion, so here I am.

Though we have things that unite our country, such as the cause of Independence and Liberty, there are lots of things that the individuals in our country don't agree on, making certain issues of "Common Welfare" subject to debate.

In relation to decisions and results, haven't you ever been in a situation in which you think after the fact, "There is no possible way I could have known that that was going to happen."?

I liked your statement "Do not expect sympathy and you will never be disappointed." I'd like to expand that to include "Do not expect to be accepted, loved, treated fairly, etc. etc. etc."

Gripper - "Laws do not protect."

Response - Ok. That might be true, but they do cut down on crime and detour some mistreatment.

Sometimes when you talk about groups, Griper, you appear to be talking about Social Class, Ethnic Groups, Prejudice and the way we deliberately segregate ourselves from one another, just as it's been said "Birds of a feather will stick together." It is good to interact with people outside of our little groups. We learn more that way.

Griper - "We should not just perceive ourselves as a member of a group."

True. We are much more complex than that.

Basically, what you are saying Griper, is that you want me to see all of you, not just the part of you that identifies you with a group. That's valid and I can do that.

The Griper said...

what i'n saying is that i'd like everyone to see them selves as being more than a member of a group.
reason: when we identify ourselves as a member of a group people will judge us in accordance to what they know or believe of that group. in other words,,instant judgment. and we need to really work at it to make them see us for ourselves in order to overcome that first impression. that is all.


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