I fear we have turned a page of history and are beginning a dark new chapter for the country. I say “fear” because my confidence in the future is regrettably low. This feeling does not arise only from the lawlessness we’re enduring on city streets and the ongoing riots. It does not result just from the absence of humanity when we cower in place and mask our faces from each other. Not just from the socialist extremism of the new Democrat party and their unscrupulous lust for power. All these negative forces will play out, their energy will be spent, they will subside. No, it’s deeper. My fear is that we have adopted a permanent change in the culture of us, the American people. A change in the core of what makes Americans exceptional. We are losing our independence not as a country, but as individuals. What passes for “individualism” these days is a sham. Individualism does not consist of choices between pleasures, or avoidance of anything that disturbs the even flow of life, or indulging and exhibiting our narrowest interests on the internet, or impulsive violence and mob destruction. Individualism stresses the importance of responsibility, self-reliance, free thinking, being a productive and caring member of a community. Individualism means the dominance of independent reason and conscience. When I think of American exceptionalism and how our culture has inspired the rest of the world the past 200 years, I think of our culture of individualism as the truest reflection of our independence. It is the encroaching loss of independent individualism in American culture that I find disturbing. The mass of Americans appear to have lost independence in their thoughts, behavior, and social awareness. The adverse of individual independence is collective slavery. That’s the slope I fear we are sliding down, the slope toward slavery to institutions, be they governmental, political, educational, or corporate, and the one-dimensional conformity they demand.