Individualism: the idea that freedom of thought and action for each person is the most important quality of a society, rather than shared effort and responsibility
I’ve got to say, I’m a little conflicted about this topic. Because I really love my freedom of thought and action. Really really.
It’s also clear to me that we’ve gone too far with it.
But it’s really hard to draw the line between personal freedom and shared responsibility, isn’t it?
Individualism is one of the greatest innovations in history. It has its roots in the Bible. It’s the foundation of our country, and of all Western society. I wouldn’t trade it.
But it also has a long list of downsides.
Individualism combines with our natural human arrogance in an insidious way. I don’t think it would be off-base to say that all of the major problems we’re facing in our society right now are all consequences of individualism. Our division, our suspicion of one another, our inability to talk about our values with people who don’t agree, the idea of a post-truth world, even the staggering wealth gap, and the disappearing middle class, all stem from individualism run amok.
But it’s still better than the alternatives, which on the extreme end politically would be communism and totalitarianism, and in the local church and community would be communal living, and I really like my privacy.
So I’m conflicted.
That’s why we’re looking at everything Jesus taught about the American Way. Because there are a lot of things about being an American that aren’t necessarily bad, that shape the way we see the world, and the way we approach God. But they sure aren’t Christian. And individualism is one of those things.
Individualism is all about each person doing things their own way.
That’s not the way the world always was, and there’s a whole history to that, but it’s kind of boring, so we’re not going to get into it.
Well maybe just a little. And really reductionistic…
So…why did the Pilgrims cross the ocean?
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