This I Believe

Cynthia - Allen, Oklahoma
Entered on December 1, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: freedom

I believe in freedom. I don’t necessarily mean the freedom for which we fought in the Revolutionary and Civil wars, though those are important as well. My idea of freedom reaches deeper.

To me, true freedom comes when one relinquishes any expectations put on them by outside forces. These expectations could include gender roles, racial stereotypes, or personal values; these outside forces might be family, the media, or society in general. No matter how well-meaning the intent is behind the standard, it still stands that such influences can hamper our personal liberties.

This idea might seem a bit cloudy, so as an example, let’s take gender stereotypes. One day recently, I sat down to eat lunch in the cafeteria with my suitemate and some of her friends. One of the boys mentioned to another that he had witnessed a couple engaging in sexual acts in a public area, and that he had forgotten to mention it. The second boy responded, “How did you forget? That should be the first thing on your mind.” This comment actually made me quite angry; it was stated as if thinking this way was the rule, just because he was male. The idea that our hormones, whether estrogen or testosterone, dictate how we should think is quite binding when one really considers it.

My question is simply, “Why?” Why place expectations on people based on trivial things such as race or gender, and more importantly, why conform to them? By doing this, to me it seems like a form of slavery; a person basically places his or her image and actions in the hands of another, be it friends, family, society, or any other outside factor. As in slavery, doing this relinquishes control over oneself to the outside source, and ultimately binds the submissive party to it as his or her master. This, in my opinion, is a deep form of dishonesty. By doing this, people could easily be lying to themselves about who they are and what they enjoy. Why bother with that when we can be free to do as we please, within reason?

In this context, it is easy to use the old adage, “The truth will set you free,” as a simple summary. Once you find your own personal truths, you are free to live by your honest beliefs. But until the world is full of free thinkers, perhaps I, as an oddball, should accept that some simply believe in stereotypes, and honestly, that’s okay.