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Dorothy Lee

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Dorothy Lee
Dorothy Lee

In the western culture of today's society, we strongly stress the respect for other people's decision and the freedom for individual thought and belief, yet we are so accustomed to constantly judge and attempt to control others if their opinions or manners are not in an accordance with ours. Dorothy Lee is an anthropologist who studies and compares the western culture and the culture of the Navaho Indians. Through many aspects of this society she provides insight and alternative approaches into problems we experience from examining a culture that values freedom as something sacred, where individual autonomy is supported by the entire community and not subjected to age or gender. Simply put, the cultural framework of the Navaho Indians is the prospective goal of what the western society attempts to strive and achieve.
In western society there is often a controversial connection between individual autonomy and societal regulations. In the workplace, individual opinions are honoured, but a superior is required to regulate and oversee those opinions. At home, children are encouraged to learn from mistakes, but a mother is always there to stop them from making any. At school, hard work is valued in itself, yet there is no reward for those that cannot earn it and success is held out for only those who are deserve it. How then can anyone in this controversial society that must reconcile to, as Lee puts it, principles of conformity and individual initiative, group living and private freedom of choice, social regulation and personal autonomy, achieve individual freedom? The key problem Lee attempts to shine light on is that our society lack the respect for individual autonomy, we constantly suppress spontaneous actions and we don't glorify sheer personal being. The difference between the Navaho Society and ours is that they are able to achieve individual autonomy because in their society freedom itself is supported by a deep conviction and endorsed by the

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