Independent thinkers are key to future

To the Editor:

Kurt Vonnegut, a prophetic fiction writer of the 1960s, wrote an amusing, disturbing and satirical short story called “Harrison Bergeron,” describing a future day in 2081 when the ruling government has perfected an equalized society. Any natural talents a person might possess beyond the average must be compensated for by the Handicapper General. If one is better looking than anyone else, he or she must be made ugly with masks or distorted features. Taller than average? You wear weights around you at all times. Naturally graceful or athletic? You wear chains to drag you down. And if you are of greater than average intelligence, you hear disrupting noises to impede any sustained thinking you might do. Success in any area of life is met only with punishment. 

It is a society where equality has come at last, and people have no idea how closely their lives resemble those of laboratory rats living in closely-monitored mazes. This futuristic American society of “Harrison Bergeron” operates on communistic principles supporting the idea that all wealth and power should be distributed equally, and individualism and exceptionalism must be suppressed for the good of the whole. It is a society of mediocrity and stagnation where the media tells you what to think and feel. There are no independent thinkers left. 

Hollywood portrays many of these same themes in current movies, such as the “Hunger Games,” “The Dark Knight,” and “The Bourne Identity” series, questioning how we are to survive and keep our human dignity in worlds where powerful forces, usually governmental, try to suppress our beliefs, rights and basic humanity by making us totally dependent upon it. The independent thinker, who stands up to these evil, shadowy forces becomes the savior of himself and his world. 

Are there any independent thinkers left today? Do you call yourself an independent, and if so, just how independent are you?

There is little argument that our Forefathers, the Founders of this nation, were independently-minded fellows. They understood subjugation to an out-of-control government that was telling them what to buy and trade, how to live and behave, when and where they could meet, and which imposed unjust taxes and regulations on many areas of their lives never taxed before. 

Finally they had enough; the American Revolution became fact; and the happy result was a nation of independently-minded people who produced an exceptional country where hard work and success are celebrated and rewarded, where freedoms of thought, speech and religion are cherished values and where educated people are free to make choices which benefit themselves and society as a whole. Is this the society we still want, America? Or is it more important to have “shared-sacrifice,” a “level playing field,” equal opportunities and benefits for all mankind, “political correctness” and a government which recognizes no needs but its own and gives us the “right” to live by its rules, whims, and definitions? How independent is your thinking? 

Laurie Wright

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