Jay Rifenbary

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Social Independence – An Impetus for Human Achievement

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Why is being independent in thought and action so important to the sustainability and evolution of the human spirit? As a healthy adult, what happens to individual self-respect if one becomes dependent on someone or something else to make decisions for him or her? How is personal responsibility impacted by dependency? What happens to a society when the people no longer have an independent say in the direction of their future? These are questions that should not be answered exclusively by politicians, but questions each of us should examine and reflect on for ourselves. There is presently an increased competition between self-determination and determination by others. Which one would you prefer to be the winner? Personally, I do not want someone else determining what my life can and will be.

Independent is defined as, “free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority”, “not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence”, capable of thinking or acting for oneself”. Would anyone reading those defining statements want the opposite for their life’s future? I am not suggesting we neglect those in need, nor disobey laws that protect our citizenry, but I am suggesting we have a responsibility to ensure dependency is not forced upon community and individuals. It is and has been social independence partnered with independent thinking that has ignited innovation, creativity and societal progress. Historically, independent thinkers have spurred the greatest periods of human achievement. The onset of the Renaissance where independent thinking bred the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo, Issac Newton, and explorer Amerigo Vespucci whom America was named after is one example. It is, and has been, the independent thinking in America that has spawned progress scientifically, economically, and socially which is still the envy of many who seek an opportunity to trigger their own human potential. In contrast, the periods of history where independent thought was persecuted, human ingenuity, innovation and progress were stifled. The Soviet Union’s blanket of communism would be a prominent recent example in Western history of the deleterious effect of social dependency. Many of those once independent nations became irrelevant in contributing to the advancement of global progress. It is the freedom to make choices that is the foundation for human ingenuity. If we no longer have the right to choose, and choices are made for us, why would anyone be motivated to explore and capitalize on their capabilities? The incentive to achieve is lost because there is no emotional, physical or financial reward for any effort made. Creating a dependent mindset deteriorates entrepreneurial spirit and breeds mediocrity.

Another limitation that prevails from social dependency is a narrowing of perceptions and viewpoints. If controls are placed on what one may say, achieve, and the approach they can achieve, say farewell to creativity, innovation and the allowance of difference in thought. When societal leadership begins to limit our rights to exercise the basic freedoms that created America’s world leadership in the first place I believe that is harmful for all. Our freedom to be independent should not be debated by any political entity; it should be their unified responsibility to help preserve it. An independent way of life is not an issue; it is a fundamental right of freedom.

Finally, social dependency depletes individual uniqueness and social diversity. It may appear that it invites acceptance of a more diverse society, but in actuality it generates just the opposite. Is it healthy to have everyone like everyone else? It is the diversity of our independent thinking, and the acceptance of difference, that creates true diversity. I believe in equality of rights among all human beings, but not the creation of an equal society where everyone is expected to think a certain way, be dependent on some governmental entity to care for them, and be limited to what their potential for greatness may be. Social dependency deteriorates individual value, and self respect, makes an individual responsible to a governing body not themselves, and determines the future for its’ citizenry. It is responsible and healthy to debate issues, create and pass legislation that protects and preserves our citizenry. It is not the responsibility of those in power to diminish our right as citizens to choose, and stifle us from attaining our full human potential. To tap into the talents, skills, creativity, and spirit of our humanness are what make us all distinctly human.



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