Since its founding, individual responsibility and self-determination have been core principles of our country. Indeed, America was founded after a revolution fought by rugged individuals who bristled under the oppressive shackles of The Crown. Since that time, Americans have seen ourselves as unique because our democratic institutions and beliefs have resulted in America being the freest and most prosperous country in the world — a literal haven for the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Individual responsibility came in response to the oppression of the monarchical class system. Soon after the American Revolution and adoption of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, the shackles of class were thrown off, meaning people were no longer stuck in the economic and political circumstances of their birth, nor were they constrained by a faraway government. For the first time, people could exercise individual rights outside those constraints. Coupled with self-determination, America wholeheartedly embraced the responsibility for and freedom to determine its own destiny.
Self-determination or the power to make choices and decisions is fundamental to who we are as Americans. The Declaration of Independence formally laid out that Americans were given free will and unalienable rights — which included life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Each person was free to choose his destiny through hard work and personal responsibility for the consequences of those choices.
While it’s true that, at the time, these rights didn’t apply to black people or women, it’s also true these same rights were eventually explicitly extended to black people with the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th-15th Amendments and to women with the 14th and 19th Amendments. America — like mankind itself — is imperfect. However, it has also proven itself capable of evolving when societal changes demand it do so.
With these principles in mind, I watched in disbelief over the past several weeks as the chaotic destruction of racial protests and the unprecedented COVID-19 hysteria have unfolded around the country. Through it all, one thing is clear: The wholly American principles of individual responsibility and self-determination are no longer embraced by a portion of Americans. Sadly, these vital principles have been replaced by a willing dependence on government and an acceptance of enslavement to the concept of eternal victimhood. Couched in emotive language and barely veiled threats, this dependence and enslavement are touted as being for the collective good regardless of —and often in spite of — damage being caused to individuals.
“Believe the experts, not your own experience,” we were told as we were admonished to “stay safe at home.”
“Wear a mask, not for your safety, but for others or you’ll kill Grandma,” we were harangued hourly by advertising and woke celebrities. And whatever you do, do not protest the quarantine orders or you’ll be labeled “an infectious little plague rat” or worse by local leftists.
Apparently, some Americans were content to allow the government to make choices for them. Many of those choices — like closing so-called “non-essential” businesses — proved to be unnecessarily extreme and their impact will be felt for years to come, but nonetheless, individuals were to be damned and their livelihoods, thus their destinies, were to be compliantly sacrificed on the altar of the collective. This sacrifice went on with no end in sight until May when the left lost its collective mind and decided protesting was not only permissible but also a moral imperative.
Instantly the “stay home or Grandma dies” mandate was abandoned by the self-proclaimed “peaceful protesters.” Never mind that just the day before they were screeching, “Murderers!” at actual peaceful protesters who simply wanted to open up businesses and get back to work. The individual no longer matters to the left. Only The Agenda matters and if the left has to use the death of a black man and cast hate on every police officer while also spreading a deadly virus to advance The Agenda, so be it. Moreover, if stirring up racial animus by branding all white people as racist and lumping all black people together as victims of racism, well that’s all the better still.
How did we get here? How did we go from valuing the individual and believing we each have the freedom to make choices to being so victimized by “systemic racism” that individuals feel they have no choice at all but to subjugate their choices to the government like a child to a parent? We need look no further than the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party is not a champion of individual responsibility or self-determination. It preaches collectivism (all white people are racist oppressors), victimhood (all black people are oppressed), and dependence (government can solve all problems). Using fear and envy, Democrats keep people enslaved to the very systems they claim to hate. Why?
For one reason, seeing yourself as a victim is easier than embracing freedom and the left knows this. Freedom is scary and success is not guaranteed. It’s easier to covet what others have than to work for it. And it’s certainly easier to collect a government check than it is to go to school, get a job and support yourself. Another reason is the left must maintain power at any cost. If the cost is a divided nation and a devastated black community, that’s perfectly acceptable to them because The Agenda and only The Agenda is what matters.
How do we overcome collective thinking and reclaim the principles of individual responsibility and self-determination? Freedom is the answer. All Americans must realize we are free, take advantage of our freedom, embrace it, and live our lives boldly and unencumbered by the left’s attempts to enslave us. It’s up to us to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities this country offers.
We must recognize the left’s true motives and not fall for shallow placations and media stunts. We must take personal responsibility for our destinies, knowing our society is imperfect. Every society is imperfect, but ours is a more perfect society and we must be a people who strive to better ourselves.
You want real revolutionary change? Reject the left’s Agenda. Embrace individual responsibility and opportunity. Exercise your free will to self-determine your own destiny. Be free, live free.
Gwendolyn Sims is a 22-year resident of the Santa Clarita Valley.