Tuesday, February 1, 2011

#32 / Destructive Individualism

I continue to believe that "who we are" is best understood by contemplating the nature of the human hand. We are not only individuals, but part of a whole. We ignore that reality at our very great peril.

It is true that who we are is not properly defined by our "collective" existence, either. We are individuals, and perhaps most importantly so. Every reality that we (collectively) bring into the world begins with a hope, or dream, or an idea which comes, in the first place, from some individual person. As a draft resister during the Vietnam War, I didn't believe (and still don't) that "obedience" to collective directives is the path to truth. I am much more with Muhammad Ali, who said, "if my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it - then I can achieve it."

But our achievements, mostly, come from common efforts. When we define our objectives by statements of what we will do of, by, and for ourselves, we undermine our ability to accomplish anything worthwhile.

In my opinion, a commitment to "individualism" as ideology is profoundly destructive of our common life.

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