Freedom or independence means that our lives are shaped by personal priorities rather than external constraints or social pressures. It means we are able to follow our own deepest values and exercise our judgment even when others disagree or disapprove.
To maintain independence, we must recognize our natural human tendency to assimilate--to gradually conform our ideas to those of groups or leaders that we like.
Because group dynamics encourage conformity, independence can create situations that are uncomfortable. Though sometimes awkward, the presence of independent thinkers is a gift to all because it keeps a group from falling into shared illusion or error.