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For the past twenty-two chapters I've been saying that you are sovereign. You're the absolute final judge of the worth of information you receive; you're the one who decides every one of your actions; you're the person who determines what is right and wrong for you. 

That's the simple reality of it. But many people don't want that responsibility—even though they can't possibly discard it. And so they hope to be handed a ready-made philosophy of life. Such a person wants someone else to guarantee that he's right—no matter what happens. 

You are responsible, because you will experience the consequences of your own acts, and those consequences are the final judge of whether you've been right or wrong. They provide a verdict from which there is no appeal.

The insecure individual hopes somehow to bypass that verdict. He looks for away to believe he's right, no matter what consequences he experiences. 

He looks for a source of "truth" that he can believe in. When he finds it, he accepts it totally. He feels that this gives him the security to know that he's right,and he prefers that kind of security to the need to rely upon his own ability.

The philosophy he finds usually contains three basic ingredients. They are moral rightness, a leader, and an enemy. These ingredients arm him with an assurance that allows him to disregard the test of consequences. 

The sense of moral rightness permits him to believe that he's right no matter what the consequences he receives in life. He settles for whatever happiness he gains from knowing he's adhered strictly to the code. He "knows" he was right in what he did—righter than his successful, wealthy, peaceful, joyous neighbor.

Such a philosophy will usually have a leader to give the individual the confidence that he doesn't have in himself. If questions or doubts arise, the leader can set them to rest. The insecure individual may feel, "I can't tell what is right, but he says it's right—and he must know."

It always seems necessary, too, for the philosophy to have an enemy. That provides a ready-made explanation for any bad consequences that may occur. 

Since the philosophy is usually expressed in terms of "moral truths," the battle with the enemy becomes a moral one. "We" (the good guys) are moral and "they"(the enemy) are immoral. 

The moralistic overtones create an evangelical fervor. The enemy isn't pictured as a group of misguided individuals who don't understand things as well as "we" do. Instead, "they" know what they're doing and know that it's wrong. They're acting deliberately; they're "evil."

This eliminates the need for the moralist to be tolerant or understanding of anyone whose interests conflict with his. Instead, he can be aggressive, violent, nasty, vitriolic, outraged—because he's dealing with someone who is immoral and thus not deserving of benevolence. It's an ideal way to relieve the pent-up frustrations that come from having to bear the bad consequences that might come from living by the philosophy. 

So the insecure individual looks outside himself for intellectual security. He hopes to find a philosophy that will guarantee him moral rightness, a leader to compensate for his lack of confidence, and an enemy to justify whatever goes wrong. Unfortunately, he lives in a fool's paradise. He still has to deal with the world and with the consequences of his own actions.

Meanwhile, the individual who recognizes his own sovereignty considers the consequences of his actions to be the only standard of right and wrong. He knows that he's capable of seeing those consequences and reacting to them as necessary. He can change any course of action that doesn't work; he can handle change and surprises as they occur. He can deal with whatever comes.

He would feel insecure only if he had to act in accordance with someone else's judgment. He would be genuinely afraid if someone else's decisions were determining his future.

He knows that the future is uncertain. But he's willing to be vigilant—to check the results of his actions. And he's willing to be honest—to acknowledge any mistakes and correct them immediately.

He's found the only kind of intellectual security that makes sense—reliance upon his own sovereignty.

--Excerpt from "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World" by Harry Browne

Hartnell Oct 24 '15 · Rate: 5 · Comments: 4 · Tags: morals, intellectual independence, responsibility, enemy
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