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Martina M. Cartwright

Martina M. Cartwright Ph.D., R.D.

The Suppression of Individual Liberty

How restrictions contribute to anxiety and unhappiness

Liberty is the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views. What happens when liberty is suppressed, whether by a bureaucracy or personal relationship?

Solid societies are founded on the basis of rules that respect individual freedom of choice while being mindful and respectful of diversity of opinion and thought. Relationships thrive when two people can disagree yet respect either others opinions without contempt or fear of being unaccepted.

Experiences make individuals, each possessing their own thoughts, feelings, beliefs and views. The human experience shapes the will and choices. The degree of conformity is formed through decision or circumstance.

So many today strive to escape conformity and rebel. Ironically, rebellion has lead to a different kind of conformity—that of dependency, group-think, over regulation, name calling and lack of critical thinking skills.

Our Nation was founded by a group of rebels seeking to escape suppression of thought and action. Strong, courageous and resourceful, these individuals chose to revel in a society that relished independence and rejected tyranny. History has demonstrated that tyranny gains a foothold when society welcomes centralized power and individuals become victims instead of participants and when poor life decisions are rewarded without consequences.

Tyranny whether implemented by a strong centralized government consisting of a few powerful people or an out of balance business/personal partnership results in an unhappy individual seeking to find meaning elsewhere. Eventually chronic repression leads to helplessness, depression, anxiety and defeat.

The loss of liberty is the heart of much unhappiness because someone surrenders his or her freedom to another. They compromise too much of what makes them who they are. In doing so, their free will dies like a flame quenched with water until their internal light is no longer--no longer an individual but an extension of another. Change is scary, but loss of self is worse.

The Nation was founded on the expression of individual liberty, the freedom to pursue not guarantee happiness; for happiness is created by free will and mindful choices Today, we have become a Nation where “rights” are clouded with “free choice,” with many choosing to surrender to the power of a faceless bureaucrat, controlling partner, unloving spouse or corporation, instead of nurturing the power of their individuality.

Such self-imposed stifling of the individual, were to take place a marriage, would provide an option to leave and pursue happiness elsewhere—divorce perhaps? Seek a partner that is supportive rather than stifling? But in a country, where does one find refuge?

Some individuals who have first hand experience with the iron fist of communism or socialism seek asylum in the United States. They often value the freedom to make their own choices, to create, to express, and to live unencumbered with the understanding that with free will comes responsibility.

Today, America faces an impending presidential election and the question is do any support individual liberty? Do your own personal relationships foster individual liberty? Liberty is complicated—rules apply and individual freedom doesn’t mean you get to do whatever you want, it means you get to do what is right. Are you able experience this in your relationships? Does your candidate foster this attitude? If not, its time to re-think your liberty quotient.

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“The suppression of individual liberty sabotages the journey of the human soul.” —Martina Cartwright