EXERCISES TO MAINTAIN AUTONOMY IN THESE ANTI-FREEDOM DAYS
It isn’t difficult to see the evidence around us that freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly are under assault in America today. Our freedom to pursue happiness is, as well. It is no longer enough to assume that living in this country or learning in this country (as a high school or college student, for instance) will be enough to maintain or sharpen your independence and autonomy. Given this, I have devised a series of 7 exercises to do just that.
- Write down ten core beliefs you hold dear. These might include a belief in the right to personal property or the right to speak your mind or the right to educated your children in the manner you deem most appropriate or the right to vote or the right to refuse certain forms of medical treatment. Take some time with this. If you write down your ten core beliefs, it’s okay to substitute a more powerfully held belief for another one on the list, as you think more about them.
- Donate to one issues-based organization you believe in. Your donation can be $1. The amount doesn’t matter. Being willing to stand up and be counted matters.
- Watch a network that is known to oppose your core beliefs for 30 minutes as a way of exercising your critical thinking. If this were to make you question your positions, so be it. But it may make you embrace them, with even more certainty.
- Go—physically—to a place that “embodies” your belief. In these days of technology taking over the world, it can seem like enough to say what you think on Facebook or Twitter. It isn’t. Attend a rally for what you believe in. Visit the grave of a leader you greatly admire. I will never forget my visits to the Lincoln Memorial or Yad Vashem, the world Holocaust memorial center.
- Order a book that deepens your understanding of one of the beliefs or issues you hold dear and read it within the next 14 days.
- Watch two famous speeches online that showcase one of your core beliefs.
- Lead today. Wherever it matters to you. Be definitive and bold at work or at home or both. Find your North Star and let others know you intend to follow it to a goal.
These exercises are just a beginning. But even recognizing that they are needed is a way to start immunizing yourSELF from being deprived of yourSELF.
Dr. Keith Ablow