Ideas for Independence

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Tomorrow (July 4th) is Independence Day in America.  It is a day set aside to remember when America’s Founders declared their independence from the British government.  I do not want to talk about the history surrounding the holiday, but I want to give some ideas of how to be independent yourself.

I.  Individuality

You are an individual.  You are unique.  Do not let anyone take that away from you.  So often we are forced to try to fit within certain guidelines.  As humans we like to associate things.  This helps us to understand our surroundings.  So, we have created labels.  Labels based on geography  (American, Canadian, Mexican).  Labels based on political ideology (Republican or Democrat).  Labels based on religious beliefs (Christian, Muslim, Jew).  Sometimes this pressures us into thinking we have to fall into one of these categories.  You may not line up under any particular political party or religious belief.  Yet, the pressure to conform sets in.  An independent person defines him or herself.  Some people describe themselves by their profession.  I enjoy the job that I work, but it’s just the means of an income.  It is what I do not who I am.  Come to your own conclusions of what type of person you are.

II.  Information

Knowledge is power.  Expose yourself to as much information as possible on any given subject.  It has been said that ignorance is bliss.  There is definitely some truth to this statement.  But ignorance can also be a tool of control.  Some people have irrational fears that others can exploit to control them.  Irrational fears are typically based on lack of knowledge.  Parents use this tactic all the time. For example… (How many parents have ever used this?)  If you keep that face, it is going to freeze like that.  The child lacks the knowledge to know that this will not happen.  So, the child complies with the instruction.  This is just a simple example.  Con artists are experts at using your ignorance against you.  Many car sales people or repair personnel will take advantage of someone they determine may lack knowledge of vehicles or vehicle maintenance.  The next time you buy a car, do some research on prices, car styles, safety features, etc.  This gives you power and will probably prevent you from being ripped off.

III.  Influence

I like the second definition given for influence at dictionary.com: the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another orothers:

I find it amazing how humans can convey their thoughts from one person to another.  We are able to use air coming out of our lung passing through our vocal chords to make sounds.  These sounds are made into words which convey ideas.  This sound is received into another’s ears and processed by the brain.  We do this with such frequency that we rarely stop to appreciate it.  Even when one person cannot hear, the other person can use sign language to express his or her thoughts.  Right now you are looking at shapes (letters, words, sentences) which are creating thoughts inside your mind.  These thoughts can stir up emotions within you.  And if an argument (line of reasoning) is powerful enough, it can change the way you think.

Can’t we influence others without intimidation?  Can’t we influence others without indoctrination?  Isn’t using persuasion better than using power?  Use the power of language to convince others of your side.  Do not resort to threats, force or fear.  Nobody lives their lives in a vacuum.  We influence others and are influenced by others daily.  You can influence someone in a positive or negative way.  Being independent means removing the negative influences and keeping the positive ones.

In conclusion:  Be an informed independent individual with a incredible influence.

Freedom of Thought (Part 2)

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I have received a lot of feedback about my last post, “Freedom of Thought”.  I would like to continue along those lines in this post.  In this post I really want to challenge you.  I challenge you to be honest.  Evaluate your beliefs. 

I.  Challenge

Put your beliefs to the test.  Challenge them.  Ask the tough questions.  Do not just ask, “What do I believe?”, but “Why do I believe it?”  Why should I believe what you believe?  Do you believe things because of fear, faith, or fact?  Do you do things a certain way because that’s the way it’s always been done?  Asking questions is a great way to cut to the core of an issue and find the truth.  I feel that if somebody says that something cannot be questioned, it is because there is something to hide.  Suppose a politician was accused of embezzling government funds.  Bank records indicate that the same amount of money that was stolen was deposited into his account.  The IP address used to make the transfer came back to the politician’s computer.  The media becomes aware of the facts in the case and decide to question him.  He says, “I am an elected official and should not be questioned because of my position.”  Would this be acceptable to you?  Wouldn’t your first assumption be that he was trying to hide something?  

II.  Consistency

Applying the same standard to your beliefs as you would to others beliefs.  You reject one religion’s claims because they are illogical, immoral, or indecent.  Will you apply the same thinking if your religion’s claims are pointed out to be the same?  Say you are a Republican and you point out a failed promise made by a Democrat.  Will you also point out when Republicans fail to keep promises?  Everybody likes to think they’re right and it can be difficult to admit when we’re wrong.  Consistency brings honesty and fairness to the discussion.  

III.  Change

This is the tough one.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  Are you willing to change your beliefs if they are found to be wrong?  This takes courage and commitment.  Don’t be afraid to change your beliefs because of what someone else may think about you.  True friends will accept you based on your character.  Something I really want you to ponder…Should I believe something just because others say I will be punished for not believing it?  This is just a fear tactic.  You should believe something because of the truth and validity of the claim based on sound reason and solid evidence.  

Conclusion:  I am not telling anybody to change their beliefs.  I am just posing a challenge.  You have to apply these principles and answer these questions for yourself.  If we are not willing to apply these rules to our own beliefs (whether religious, political or otherwise), then we are being intellectually dishonest.  Never be content with the amount of knowledge you possess.  Ever since I have freed my mind to think outside the box and the book, I have a hunger to learn.  A whole world has been opened to me!  Science, history, logic, and philosophy are my main interests at the moment.  We have more access to information than any time in history due to the internet.  It would be a shame to waste it.  I am trying to add my two little cents worth by writing this blog.  Please consider what I have written.