We Cannot Behave Freely without Restraint Essay

We Cannot Behave Freely without Restraint Essay

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We as individuals and especially as a country, encompass this idea of freedom into our lives. America is known as the land of the free. New Hampshire’s state motto is “Live Free or Die”. America’s documents like the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, have been called the “Charters of Freedom” (http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/). These charters give U.S. citizens the freedom of press, speech, protest, gun ownership, privacy, and many more freedoms that we use every day. The list of freedom examples within this country goes on and on. As obsessed as we are with this idea of freedom, few have looked into what freedom actually is. And even fewer realize that our behavior, individually or nationally, exemplifies that we are not free.
Assuming I have just pissed off every American that reads this, let us first look at what the word “freedom” actually means. My personal idea of freedom is the ability to be myself, think for myself, and act as I wish without being forced to do so. If you type the word freedom into the Google search engine, it defines freedom as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint”(http://www.google.com/ search?client=safari&rls=en&q=freedom&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8). Those two definitions are pretty similar to one another. To give a different perspective, B.F. Skinner (1971), a behavioral psychologist, explains that freedom represents either the act of escaping an unwanted stimulus, or avoiding an unwanted stimulus. For example, after lying on a beach on a sunny day you realize that you are getting extremely sun burnt, so you decide to leave the beach and get some shade or possibly sunscreen, this is the example of escaping from the sun...

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...any examples that suggest our behavior is not without some sort of influencing restraint or hindrance. Within our own American history our presidents have felt their hand was forced to go to war. Gays and blacks were so harshly discriminated against that they were not free to do many things. Social psychology explains how social pressure can be so great that we behave in a way that is acceptable instead of making our own free choices. We have seen in many criminal cases how people’s perceptions can be so distorted that freedom was never an option. If I haven’t convinced you that we never actually are able to behave freely without restraint, I hope I have at least made you more aware, not that that will do anything, about how restraints don’t allow you to freely make choices, and maybe make choices more on your own terms rather than the pressures that surrounds you.

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