I recently wrote someone that I am a very independent woman. It’s true, and yet there are places within me that still struggle with independence. On this weekend commemorating the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence I’ve been thinking about independence and what it means to me, and whether the citizens of our country really know and understand what it meant at the time of its creation. AND what it might mean NOW, 235 years later.
Going back to the declaration itself,
“…to secure these rights [Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness[, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Now, this declaration was about the English colonies in America separating from England and the despotism of King George III. But if one reads the basis of the declaration, one can see that, removed from the context of despotism, it can also be true for today. Nothing has changed in the human spirit to have Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. But are these rights available only as ‘secured by the institution of a government’?
In my view, U. S. citizens have been suffering at the hands of the government that was established on the principle of freedom – independence. Yet we have given our power over to the government for whatever ‘payoff’ we think will help us. And then we whine about what the government is or isn’t doing for us. It’s like someone staying in a bad relationship for the payoff of ‘security’, ‘benefits’, image, and whatever the person thinks the relationship will provide .
We buy into what we are told, what seems to be the trend of the day. And that’s where “group think” comes in. It’s prevalent in our government and in our daily lives. We are sheep, following the ‘shepherd’ or guru, or the person we think will give us what we want. We are manipulated and hypnotized into our beliefs by the media, the spin doctors, Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Hollywood, and so forth, and when we find out the truth we feel helpless and powerless.
When I took my trip back east I met some new friends, who, I was happy to learn, had ideas similar to mine about what is happening to our government. They mentioned that one of their friends defined our government as no longer a democracy, but an oligarchy. So I looked up that term and the definition is:
Oligarchy (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligarchy)
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people could be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, corporate, or military control. The word oligarchy is from the Greek words “ὀλίγος” (olígos), “a few” and the verb “ἄρχω” (archo), “to rule, to govern, to command”. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who pass their influence from one generation to the next.
Throughout history, most oligarchies have been tyrannical, relying on public servitude to exist, although others have been relatively benign. Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which the exact term is plutocracy, but oligarchy is not always a rule by wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group, and do not have to be connected by bloodlines as in a monarchy.
Think about it. Do you think this term applies to our government? What about the lobbyists who push, pull, influence, promote, and ‘buy’ our members of congress? Are they controlling our government?
Yesterday I read an article by a woman in Australia that said, “…what’s happening now is that a significant mass of people on this planet are no longer giving up their power to those who are not using it wisely on their behalf.” Here, in the U. S. I’ve seen that we are supportive of the recent movements to remove other oppressive governments from power. Perhaps it’s time to think about what direction we want our own government to take, and begin to use our power in a positive way, to once again become independent, with all that that means.
Note: If you want to know more about “group think”, go to: http://www.psysr.org/about/pubs_resources/groupthink%20overview.htm
(Handfast photo by Larissa Cleveland)