Freedom is an individual concept, not a societal one. There is no such thing as a “free society” other than a society of free individuals. “Group Think,” socialism, political correctness and even pure democracy are the antithesis of freedom and the source of eventual ruin of the United States of America.
When personal responsibility is mitigated by finger pointing and blame, then we may well be beyond the point of no return.
Case in point: Dylann Roof and the Emanuel AME Church shooting was an evil act by an individual with the intent to spawn more evil in the form of a race war. While many condemn his actions, they also seek to “understand” his motivation and in so doing, shift the blame for his individual act onto ideologies and symbols that may have “caused” him to become the instrument of evil. The only cause of Dylann Roof is Dylann Roof. A flag did not cause him to become evil, a racist ideology did not cause him to become evil. Dylann Roof chose to embrace a racist mindset, Dylann Roof chose to embrace symbols associated with hate and racial division.
Dylann Roof did exactly what American society as whole does these days, he shifted the blame for whatever his mind perceived as an injustice onto an outside entity rather than take personal responsibility for his lot in life. As members of society become less inclined to accept personal responsibility, the rationalizations, boogeymen and dark forces upon which to assign blame abound. When tragic evil strikes, it is easier to blame inanimate objects like guns or flags than to hold accountable the perpetrator because then we have to admit and accept our own individual failings. “Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you.”
The list of straw man scapegoats are numerous, we blame parents for how they raised their kids rather than the kids themselves. We blame history and it’s legacy of oppression for our failure to flourish in a society of free men and women. We blame ethereal concepts like “institutionalized racism” rather than the individuals who perpetrate racist acts or biases. But, it goes much deeper than that as well, we blame politicians for the state of this nation rather than ourselves for being uninformed voters or not voting at all. We blame conspiratorial cabals of puppet masters behind the proverbial curtain pulling strings, when we are the supposed puppets apparently allowing that control.
In short, we are each a sum of the experiences and influences that we encounter throughout our lives. How we process and act on those experiences and influences is entirely within the control of each of us individually. Our freedom begins and ends with each of us individually. Our liberty is only restrained by the effect that it has on the liberty of others around us. We are communal creatures by nature, yet still individual sovereigns in our own right. Freedom is messy, sometimes uncomfortable and often unequal in its distribution, but that is what this nation was founded upon.
Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem
“I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.”
Only an individual can be free, when we abandon the individual and embrace the “group,” when we abandon accountability and embrace partisan finger pointing, when we dodge personal responsibility by failing to hold others personally responsible, then the individual becomes subjugated to the mob mentality. Individualism and personal accountability are the foundation of freedom, but they are inconsistent and often seemingly unfair or even offensive. Yet the attempts to impose fairness and avoid offense inevitably lead to authoritarian, dictatorial or monarchical rule in order to enforce a set standard of equality and punish offenses based on the arbitrary ruling of an individual or ruling class, or the oppression of individualism and freedom itself.
“all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” – Declaration of Independence
Our society has become insufferably focused groups, groups identity and groups rights rather than the individual. Society has become insufferably predisposed to look for and place blame outside the individual. Society has become insufferably opposed to all manner of insult or offense, to the point of censorship, politically correct Orwellian NewSpeak and public discomfort with free speech in general. Society has become insufferably dependent upon government at the expense of personal responsibility and even disdain for those who still exercise such personal responsibility. The evils to which we have become accustomed are many and increasingly unbearable. Only time will tell whether we still have the American ability to “right ourselves” or whether we continue to devolve into subjugation and servitude.