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Freedom, Liberty, and Autonomy

Social inequality
Pyramid of the Capitalist System.

We are raised to follow the rules and to go with the flow.  To mildly go where everyone has gone before in hopes that we’ll grow up into responsible, respectable adults who quietly sit in our cubicles and work hard everyday to make some other person rich.  “Don’t rock the boat,” our parents and teachers would say as they mapped out our daily schedules.  “Think this way, not that way.  Behave like this, not like that.”

As children we’re given these little boxes to fit into so we can be packaged and shipped off to the next stages in our lives, complete with postage stamping and other categorical labels meant to identify us.  At the same time we learn about the men and women who shaped the course of history:  Christopher ColumbusSusan B. AnthonyMartin Luther King Jr.  The Founding Fathers.  Rosa ParksAlbert EinsteinAbraham Lincoln.

Men and women society idolizes so much, yet takes strides against raising more individuals who share the celebrated qualities of these historical people.  Individuals who broke their molds and went against the norms of society.  “Give me liberty, or give me death!”  What kind of country would this be if Patrick Henry‘s immortal words did not echo through today’s classrooms?  Or if Thomas Jefferson decided it was best not to upset the English and refused to write the Declaration of Independence?  It’s hard to say.  Maybe there wouldn’t be an America at all.  Maybe the world as we know it would still be flat, in the center of the universe, with African slaves and women without rights if there were no individuals bold enough to change things.

For this reason, I say “rock the boat.”  Question authority.  Stay true to your convictions and principles.  Don’t let anyone stuff you inside one of their precious little boxes so they can put a pretty little bow on it and pass you on as another kitchen set or cardigan sweater for someone else down the line to use or re-gift later.  Because history is made by those who forge their own paths and think for themselves.  Those who aren’t afraid to stand up and be defiant.  Those who know what is right and where society has went wrong and aren’t intimidated by the challenge of fixing it.

Be you, above everything else.  An independent, thinking individual who doesn’t follow the herd or goes along with everything society tells you to do.  It isn’t anarchy and it isn’t even disobedience.  It’s freedom.  It’s liberty.  It’s autonomy.  And it’s your choice.

Now, carpe diem.  (Seize the day)

(Inspired in part by a couple amazing professors and the late, great, George Carlin)