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Ramblings of a Misguided Blonde

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Driving Individualism

As I mentioned earlier, I've been reading way too much lately (as Brian can attest), but it can be surprising where books can take you intellectually (for me, that is where their power lies). Anyway, I'm currently in the middle of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism. As one would imagine, it is a relatively conservative book. I say relatively conservative due to the fact that I was expecting it to be much more partisan that it actually is. It was a pleasant surprise that the book is so well-grounded in research and historical fact.

Well, I'm becoming much more aware that the central fault line in American politics today is collectivism versus individualism. I believe that both are needed, though I tend to favor individualism. I was thinking about this when something occurred to me. If a set of preconceived notions are placed upon individuals, as it was during classical fascism and to a lesser extent in liberal fascism, where is the will to overcome personal obstacles or become more educated?

For example, most women with Turner Syndrome do not receive their driver's license as soon as allowable by law. Many women with Turner Syndrome have issues with depth perception that make driving more difficult. While I grew up knowing issues surrounding depth perception were a real possibility for me as a result of my diagnosis of Turner Syndrome, I was somehow relatively unaware that that may affect my quest to receive my driver's license at age 16.

While it isn't that uncommon for people who grow up and live in large cities (where good public transportation options are available) to delay obtaining a driver's license until their 20s, that just isn't the case in most of rural America. Growing up in Omer, Michigan, a driver's license means one thing: Independence. It is that simple. Any delay in obtaining a driver's license or vehicle is agony for most teenagers in the area. It simply wasn't something that I thought about. I just assumed that I would be able to get my driver's license on my 16th birthday. In preparation, I even spent hours getting my car ready (it was my Mom's old vehicle, which my parents stored for a year).

For a variety of reasons, I did not enjoy driver's ed. In the end, I needed more time behind the wheel, and even after obtaining my driver's license on my 16th birthday, I was a very timid driver. It didn't have anything to do with Turner Syndrome; it had everything to do with the fact that my older cousin (who is only ten months older than me) was almost killed by a drunk driver the very day I started driver's ed. It would take years for me to feel entirely comfortable behind the wheel, but that is exactly what happened in the end.

During a doctor's visit after my 16th birthday, the nurse practitioner was incredibly surprised that I had obtained my license on my 16th birthday. She told me that it was almost unheard of among teenagers with Turner Syndrome. In fact, I have friends with Turner Syndrome who are approximately my age (27) who still do not have their licenses. What if she had told me that at age 13 or 14? Would I have been too timid to even try?

My Dad has always told me that I have a tendency to do things the hard way. Brian is noticing it too. My question is this: Does it really matter as long as everything comes out all right in the end? I learned some incredibly valuable lessons from doing things "the hard way." Nothing worth having is easy per se. I learned a lot while overcoming my fear of driving (again, it was almost exclusively driven by my cousin's brush with death).

If collectivism is to be pursued exclusively without any regard to individualism, it is my opinion that humanity would be selling itself short. I doubt that we would have had Einstein, Darwin, Freud, Ford, or Michael Jordan. There is normally a purpose to struggle, and collectivism doesn't seem to acknowledge it.

I'm sorry that this post was so deep, but it is something that has been bugging me for a while now. It seems all the more pertinent in light of the upcoming election. It truly scares me that classical liberalism is getting such a bad rap (by the way, we would call classical liberals conservatives today).


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