Reason and Religion: Being an American The notion of being an American is associated with the power of the individual. “The Enlightenment developed around the belief that scientific thought and expression should be free from religious interference and that the foundation of society should be human reason and logic” (The Power of the Individual, 2007). This focus on human reason implies hard work, education, human accomplishment, the goal to get to Heaven, and the desire to conform. In other words, we can attribute reason as being the foundation for what it actually means to be an American. The idea of America as a symbol of freedom and mankind’s fundamental need for morality are linked in tangible ways.
“While the individual had the power to determine their own personal beliefs, some found that they were still oppressed by things they could not control” (The Power of the Individual, 2007). Included in this idea is that all human endeavors are governed by the need to express individuality—the freedom to be an individual is closely associated with the promises which are inherent in being an American. Being an American allows us to conform to what we hold most sacred, as long as we are willing to work hard for the privilege. Human freedom is intertwined with the larger goals of a country which is also free.
America represents the context in which people may live up to this idealized concept. “The ability to self-determine one’s destiny…was [also] necessary to advance society as a whole” (The Power of the Individual, 2007). The concept of being an American links those features of reason—hard work, education, religious freedom, for example—with the advancement of society in general. Reason underlies this advancement, culminating in the American way of life. The goals which signify hard work and human accomplishment are intertwined as well within the American. The pursuit toward the idealized concept of freedom in a larger sense always begins with a single person.ReferencesThe Power of the Individual. (2007).
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