The word ‘independence’ is not a mere word from an English dictionary but it is an expression that represents a state of mind and a state of being, both of which carry profound meaning to most human beings on this planet. From legalized slavery to complete abolishment and mockery of it, French Revolution to Martin Luther King and restricted housewives to the modern-day independent woman – the struggle to attain the state of independence has pushed mankind to extremes, sometimes paying with one’s life for it.
What is it about independence that resonates so well with most of us alike? Physically, most of us today live in an independent country governed by a democratically elected government. Even if some of us still live in a communist or socialist country with a dictator, we would still cherish and practice independent life to a great extent – as if the craving for independence is biological and universal.
The clamor around independent state of living has been growing for decades now. From the American rock bands of 60s and 70s singing about breaking away from the shackles of the societal pressure and bias to the modern-day media that celebrates individuality at all levels, across all genders – we’ve come a long way. The present society, especially in cities is more compatible to individualistic lifestyle format than it ever was in our known history.
Today, every major city has hostels and housings that can be shared with other males and females without having to rent an entire house, cab and car-pooling services that allow individual travel possible at a reduced cost, and never-ending supply of fast food chains at every corner, all of which enable working individuals to continue living independent life without having to be part of a family in order to sustain life. If you’re hell-bent on living an individualistic life even into your old age and until death, we have old age homes to take care of that bit as well.
The role of independence in our daily life or the need for it is so grandly celebrated by all of us even without realizing it, so much so at the cost of overdoing it. The importance of independence runs so deep in our minds that it has even become a reason for some western countries to initiate wars to liberate another country, just so that they achieve the state of independence. Artistes from around the globe have been writing lyrics celebrating independence of state and persons, ‘Miss Independent – Ne Y0’, ‘Independent Women – Destiny’s Child’ to name a few.
Back in the days, achieving a grand feat like sailing the globe was a group effort done by sailors in large groups and climbing expeditions were done with like-minded enthusiasts. But with the available resources we have today, we often hear about someone sailing across the globe solo setting a new record, and another swimming long distances in the ocean all alone or someone flying across the globe independently. It is as if we all suddenly and simultaneously decided to value independence and independent endeavors so much that it is not enough to live in an independent country to be satisfied now, but we want independence in every act we do.
All that we needed was a platform to convey and transmit our urge and achievements with respect to independence. Social media and media in general just did that. The millennial generation value independence probably more than anything else today. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are littered with messages that celebrate individualism and independence.
But, are we really that independent and carry independent thoughts?
Our lives are like candles and our minds are like their flames. The burning of the flame is like a brain that is fueled to think. The direction of the flame is like the direction of thoughts that our brain sees as right and wrong. The image above shows a burning candle with its flame blowing in the right direction due to wind. Like the wind directs a flame, our minds and their thoughts also get directed by their surroundings. In other words, however independent we think we may be, we often think and believe in things that are based on what the society tells us as right, real and fact.
How often do we see a flame blowing against the direction of wind? Be it large forest fires or huge fireballs from a circus show, flame follows the wind and bends in the direction the wind takes it. A flame that is set against a wind will always be put off, soon enough. Similarly, no matter how much we may think and claim to be independent, we willfully succumb to the consent of majority around us and generalization without making informed evaluation of our own. We constantly shape our thoughts based on what is fed to us as right to wrong and left to right.
Once feudalism and slavery was acceptable globally by the vast majority, today, it is desisted. It is the bold work of very few who dared to go against the natural order of ordinary and mass generalization of the society, resulting in the better human conditions. For being socially acceptable and politically correct, most of us do not reflect our thoughts into words against generalization. Maybe for good?
A flame blows right if the wind blows right, it blows left if the wind blows left, but it remains straight, perfectly shaped, beautiful and most importantly clear when there isn’t any wind to disturb it. Likewise, our minds can grow beautifully when there is little biased forces influencing it.