The concept of Freedom
Perhaps the word ―freedom‖ is one of the most respected
popular words in the United States today.
By ―freedom‖, Americans mean the desire and the ability of all individuals to control their own destiny without outside interference from the government, a ruling noble class, the church or any other organized authority. The desire to be free of controls was a basic value of the new nation in 1776, and it has continued to attract immigrants to this country.
There is, however, a price to be paid for this individual freedom: self-reliance. Americans believe that individuals must learn to rely on themselves or risk losing freedom. This means achieving both financial independence and emotional independence from their parents as early as possible, usually by age 18 or 21. it means that Americans believe they should take care of themselves, solve their own problems and ―stand on
their own two feet.‖ Tocqueville observed the Americans belief in self-reliance 150 years ago in the 1830s:
They owe nothing to any man, they expect nothing from any man; they acquire the habit of always considering themselves as
standing alone, and they are apt to imagine that their whole destiny is in their own hands.
This strong belief in self-reliance continues today as a basic American value. It is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of the American character to understand, but it is profoundly important. Americans believe that they must be self-reliant in order to keep their freedom. If they rely too much on the support of their families or the government or any organization, they may not be free to do what they want.
By being dependent, not only do they risk losing freedom, but they also risk losing the respect of their peers. Even if they are not truly self-reliant, most Americans believe they must at least appear to be so. In order to be in the mainstream of American life—to have power and /or respect –individuals must
be seen as self-reliant. Although receiving financial support from charity, family, or the government is allowed, it is never admired. Many people believe that such individual are setting a bad example that may weaken the American character as a whole.