Sunday, November 23, 2014

Being an American Means Individual Freedoms Trump Group Rights ... And What Descartes, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Spud Webb Have to Say About It

Are we a nation of individuals or a nation of individual groups?

Of course, we are both, but that's not the question du jour.

Which is more important to each of us on a daily basis as we go through life?

This brings to my mind Descartes's famous quote, "I think, therefore I am."

But there's a slightly different take on that quote which I prefer, "I think, therefore I can change what I am." Because by changing how we think, we can change what we do, how we feel and even what we become.

In other words, in America what happens to each of us is largely up to each of us. The power to choose our own direction and destiny is for us to determine as individual Americans.

From time to time, I remind myself of this unearned blessing that comes by being born an American.

Notable & Quotable: Ayaan Hirsi Ali has this to say about that:

"From remarks by Somali-born writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali at the Independent Women’s Forum’s Women of Valor Dinner, Nov. 19:

It is a hard fight. It’s extremely difficult, day after day, when you face people and say, “If Sharia law is taken to its logic this is what things are going to look like” and you come across people who say, “you got it all wrong.”

I had a Q&A in a setting like this one with the vice president of our country. He said, “ISIS had nothing to do with Islam.” I said, “I beg to differ.” He said, “Let me tell you one or two things about Islam.” I politely left the conversation at that. I wasn’t used to arguing with vice presidents. . . .

I come from a culture and background, and I spent my youth, in an environment where everything and absolutely everything reminded me of being a woman, being female, and being inferior.

And I didn’t realize until I came to the West that we actually are first and foremost not collectives. We are individuals. We are individual girls with our different characters, with our likes and dislikes.

And before you assume the collective, assume the individual. That is the greatest thing about the idea of America."

Summing Up

As former basketball player Spud Webb put it, "If you  can dream it, you can do it." And so it was with him when several years ago at 5'7" he won the NBA dunk contest.

In America, We the People are in charge of our destiny -- each of us -- not the government.

And with all the issues and problems we are facing today, sometimes it's necessary to reflect on how lucky we are to be Americans.

Today is one of those 'thankful' days for me as I try to figure out what to do with the rest of my 'working' life.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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