Having freedom means choosing whether or not to follow others

Gregory Valcourt, Creir Staff

In the (off-)center of the brick walkway on the JOA quad, a stone (which I assume is granite) is placed.

It would be an ordinary rock, if the seal of the college was not carved into it. And for being a humble rock, it has much respect.

Sit for a time in those black metal benches. You will find that almost no one walks on the seal.

I have heard a few interesting reasons for this phenomenon. The foot traffic damages it. You will get pregnant. (Men are not spared in this one.) You will fail your classes. And so on…

These reasons are hogwash. You won’t fail out. You won’t suddenly be with child, though you could very well end up in these positions from your other personal choices. And the most damage that can be done to the seal is done by these April snow and rain showers and the all-consuming power of H2O.

Yet, presented with this information, the vast majority of the campus will still walk around the seal.

Therein lies the real reason for avoidance: peer pressure. No one wants to walk on the seal because that person would be ostracized.

This is not to say peer pressure is an intrinsic evil. The same force that propels one to part in Uppers is the same force that compels one to stay off drugs in DARE. The judgement of our part matters to us.

But we are here at a liberal arts college. Conversatio teaches us that we are here to learn what allows us to be free.

Ability to read and write, to make good choices, and to form good arguments are among those arts that make us free; these arts allow us to create our own opinions.

In this present age of Trumpist and Warrenite mob mentality, we need more people to freely form their own opinions.

The jump to defend a position without forethought. The axiomaticism of our current parties. The rash partisan nay-saying for the sake of partisanship. These are not acts of freedom; these are acts of slavery.

A wise man once admonished me to “Leave the crowd and its opinions”; to let my thoughts be “like sparks form the campfire, rising to the heavens.”

We should think for ourselves and be oriented to something higher. We were not made to wade in the muck and mire, quibbling over that which is pedantic.

As we approach summer, let us strive towards truth in all our actions. Let us cripple free thinking with the phrase: “This is the way we have always done things.” Let us seek new heights due to our freedom from axiomaticism.

I cause controversy every time I walk over the seal. You will too. But if you wish to be a free person in a world that wants a dichotomy, you will cause trouble.

But acting free generally causes this. And you don’t necessarily need to disagree with the crowd. It is coming to the conclusion by your own free will that matters.

Because if we do not think for ourselves, we are no longer free people. Instead, we are slaves.