The Plight of Free Thinkers

Frederick Douglas provided a great statement on individualism after the Civil War was over in explanation to his former master: “I have often thought I should like to explain to you the grounds upon which I have justified myself in running away from you,” wrote Douglass. “I am almost ashamed to do so now, for by this time you may have discovered them yourself. I will, however, glance at them.” You see, said Douglass,

I am myself; you are yourself; we are two distinct persons, equal persons. What you are, I am. You are a man, and so am I. God created both, and made us separate beings. I am not by nature bound to you, or you to me. Nature does not make your existence depend upon me, or mine to depend upon yours. I cannot walk upon your legs, or you upon mine. I cannot breathe for you, or you for me; I must breathe for myself, and you for yourself. We are distinct persons, and are each equally provided with faculties necessary to our individual existence. In leaving you, I took nothing but what belonged to me, and in no way lessened your means for obtaining an honest living. Your faculties remained yours, and mine became useful to their rightful owner.”

My own opinion is that In being “free thinkers” we must also be fiercely protective of the rights of the individual. While we must all depend upon each other to some extent, we have to be careful not to go too far. We give over too much now in the way of our individual thinking to the collective “aura” of those who control us through money.

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