Have you ever heard the quote: Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains? A Genevan philosopher by the name of Rousseau once stated this. From the moment I read the quote, it forced me to analyze human nature versus society. Most importantly it made me question the existence of individual freedom of expression here in America.
Like Rousseau, I can easily distinguish a divide between human nature and society. If a human roams freely in nature they are self sufficient and escape the vice of a political society. The development of society creates a social interdependence, which has negative effects upon the overall physical and mental well being of humans in my observances and research. As a population grows people tend to undergo a tremendous psychological change. They begin to value another person’s opinion as an essential element to their own well being. This creates a sort of pressure to become a person which everyone can accept. Follow a path in which is traditional; college, marriage, children, and death.
It is very difficult in a society of social interdependence to self-love oneself. Instead most people form a sort of fabricated shield of pride. This pride eventually leads a person to compare themselves to another person, this creating a kind of fear or pleasure in the pain of the observing the weaknesses of another. For example, our children could be bullied in school for a characteristic which is unusual or not socially accepted easily. They can almost be forced to mentally change or continue to endure the torment and isolation from their peers. And what do some frustrated parents do with a child whos behavior becomes so “out of control” from the pressure of social interdependence? Some parents chose to medicate their children at a young age, which can have initial positive effects but it seems the long term effects are either not researched enough or researched with a bias. The field of neuroscience and psychology is still discovering new ways the brain functions. We have yet to fully understand the way the brain operates as well from individual to individual, which is a cause for concern in my opinion when it comes to administering proper medications. Paxil originally concealed information regarding the effectiveness and safety of its use, especially on adolescents. The rise in suicide rates in children rose with the prescribing of antidepressants in general, not just Paxil. Eventually, the FDA required black box labels that a black box label be put upon all antidepressants warning of potential suicidal thoughts in children. Outside of America in Canada, the company behind Adderall XR was investigated after reports of deaths internationally sparked attention to the matter. Canada returned Adderall XR to the market, but with the label warning patients with cardiac abnormalities should not take the drug. You can’t help but wonder if the pharmaceutical companies which are testing the drugs, are accurately presenting the information to the FDA. After all, what’s in it for them? Money, money and more money. An incentive to possibly portray information in a more acceptable manner. And is there any oversight when it comes to the FDA? How often are they sort of audited in a way? I am suggesting perhaps there needs to be more oversight in these areas by the right kind of people, who will put lives before profits.
Education as well in this country I would argue is not always essential for the person acquiring it, depending upon their strengths and weaknesses. As human beings, we are born equipped to gain knowledge through experiencing our environments with our senses. Whether we acknowledge this or not, every single day we acquire some piece of information, even if it is insignificant. There are those out there who are successful, not because of an education but because they acquired knowledge based upon their life experiences and combined this with their natural capabilities and talents. The concept of even learning a trade has become shoved aside by more and more students as well. They believe a university will provide a better quality education, think it is more rational of a decision at the moment, but with the influx of enrollees this has created a cage for them. Meanwhile, we now have a shortage of skilled laborers in this country but we seem to have well educated people who are lost, frustrated, and have little chance of landing their dream job when there are hundred to thousands of applicants with the same degree. And think of how many cannot afford a home now because of a student loan payment. Yes, there are payment options for some loans out there depending on the lender and type of loan which can make your payment feasible, but if you are on an income based repayment plan it can be difficult to nearly impossible to obtain a mortgage. It seems the student loan payment has sort of taken the identity of being the modern invisible mortgage payment. This not only screws up the borrower but society as a whole, because those with a middle income paying job are in my opinion taxed heavily and feel sort of taken advantage of. Oftentimes the blame is put upon those who need help, while failing to see the connections between cause and effect over a long period of time.
And all the interest being paid out to private lenders is just going into their pockets mostly. Federal loan interest, we can hope is going towards the community as a whole to better the situation, but do we honestly know for sure? New York State purposed free tuition for those who sign up for the Excelsior scholarship and follow the guidelines. However, the guidelines are strict, and require a graduate to stay in the state for a certain amount of years after graduation. I agree with this requirement, but I also think this scholarship should not even exist in the first place. It will not solve the student debt crisis, only possibly make it worse on some, and create little debt upon others. Why should there be such a huge difference in relief brought to one person versus another, based upon a date? Because ultimately timing is what is determining your student debt factor now in NYS. Those who already graduated now hold the burden, while those who are new to college, are taking advantage in my opinion. And I do not mean taking advantage out of ill intent of course, because who wouldn’t apply that is qualified to but I mean they are sort of not realizing this was funding upon the backs of the previously indebted generation.
In recent times, I must say though there have been investigations into contracted lenders, which has led to the discovery of lenders purposely misleading borrowers. Signing them up for payment plans which were not in their best interest at all, thus creating interest upon interest, capitalized interest, which has added even more debt upon these borrowers. Currently the rhetoric towards those in student debt, seems to be one of “well you shouldn’t have gone to college” or “you’re just a bunch of whiners who need to pay back the money.” But I beg to differ. The lenders want the public to buy into that narrative, it would of course serve their best interests for people to. Why else? It’s like pitting your well deserved enemies against one another then sneaking away when really you were the villain. Think about it that way for a minute.
Another area I find fascinating to dig into it’s effects on humanity is technology. As much we love technology and don’t get me wrong it has the ability to do wonderful things in the world; but when it comes to its general day to day interactions with the average person, it can be unhealthy. We carry our phones around constantly, feel the need to be connected to something through social media as much as we try to deny it. Even if someone takes a break from social media, all too many times I see them back into the groove a week later. This has to do with pride in materialistic things and also a desire to compare oneself to another. Whether that be comparing what you own to someone else’s property, comparing an occupation, or simply comparing as superficial as it sounds; physical appearances. Technology makes all this comparison possible. All this constant connection possible, which in turn keeps us wanting new products, thus making the industry incredibly lucrative. But honestly, can we say our own country has benefited from this thirst for technology the most? Honestly I believe we cannot. With the exception of some items, a lot of our manufacturing now is done in China. The population of China is very high and physical space is even limited. These “extra” people (as probably viewed by those who put profits before people) are great for companies that are wanting to take advantage of cheap labor. Of course we cannot be angry at the workers, for they are only doing what they can to survive their own conditions. They are indoctrinated into a similar cycle as we, dependent upon a job for survival under the pressures of population growth. Trying to keep their head above water, while more heads pop up and the water is being drained. All the while, the rich are getting richer, while the poor remain poor. A perfectly crafted business plan which only benefits those who created it.
So ask yourself now if you are truly free in America. Because it ultimately depends on what your definition of freedom is. Think about your everyday life. Do you feel free with the routine? Do you feel as if you have the right to make decisions without the invisible puppet strings upon your hands? Do you feel as if a more powerful force is in control of what opportunities may come your way? Do you feel as if you can truly say your opinions? We either live to work, or work to live. And ultimately that depends on what opportunities come your way and whether those opportunities coexist with what personally makes you content. The odds of this are realistically slim. And no person can truly just make the decision to stop working if they are able, because survival would be difficult. Retirement would even become difficult. A person’s social security would be definitely affected with a lack of work. But truly, what is retirement? It is sort of going back to a childlike state in my opinion, free of most responsibilities. Free to wake up and do as your heart desires. I remember as a child feeling the most free that I ever have, running through field of wildflowers and corn all day. I had no responsibilities and time was not a factor in my life. A clock was not always ticking in my head as it does now. I didn’t wear a watch or care to look upon one. Nature excited me and gave me the will to wake up in the morning as simple as it sounds. But truly, I personally felt at peace with my surroundings and myself. Now, I can only hope to someday ironically return where I began. It is as if we work our whole lives to acquire back the freedom we once had as children. As people we are essentially born free just as Rousseau said, but why does it feel as if our surroundings require us to work our entire lives until death, especially now more than ever to acquire it? And is it truly possible right now for most to achieve the American dream anymore with the amount of wealth equality currently going on in America? I see so much misdirected anger towards one another, but the truth is most people are struggling to achieve the American dream.
Thank you for reading.