It seems to now be the "in" thing among some Christians to deride individualism as somehow not quite nice, or a downright bad thing. They put qualifiers in front of the newly nasty word, as in "rampant individualism" or, my favorite so far, "...this shallow and empty Narcissistic society of extreme individualism," which came to me in an email message yesterday.
My goodness! Why has "rugged individualism" and "Yankee ingenuity," and "healthy independence," and "self-reliance" morphed into something to pick up with two fingers while holding one's nose with the other hand, and throw as far away as possible without getting any on one's person?
Well, individualist that I am, I've done the audacious thing of thinking about it myself rather than asking some authority figure to tell me the answer. I think it's because "individualism" has been assigned the task of being the enemy of "community," the new "in" word. To those who think in polarities, needing something to be against for each thing they are for, some villain must exist opposite "community."
Community is the new Evangelical and, for all I know, non-Evangelical Christian buzz word. Like another popular, buzz word, "communication," it sounds good, but nobody knows what it means.
People who like power know how to use a good buzz word. They clasp it to their bosoms and treasure it, because it's going to get them leverage with their followers, or the followers they hope to have.
To those tho crave power, "community" means leverage to get others to do what they want them to. And what they want them to do is do everything they ask them to do.
But, they have to sell it first. And that involves a bit of fear mongering, a tad of scapegoating, and thus, the creation of a false enemy. No problem, most power brokers are experienced, and have been well trained by the best.
To maintain *that* kind of "community", one needs to squelch a bit of dissent from time to time, and a good label to attach to the dissenter helps. How about "individualist?" That will do very well.
But, who are these bad individualists? What have they done? How are they bad?
Nobody knows--the perfect situation for a derisive term. It's empty and can be filled with whatever needs squelching.
Never mind that without individualists the community probably wouldn't be there in the first place, nor would most of the people in the community.
Never mind that just about every modern convenience, scientific development, culturally significant movement, medical tool or drug, procedure or life saving innovation or discovery is available thanks to an individualist.
Never mind that, just as the saying goes, "No work of art was ever created by a committee," great art is the venue of the individualist.
Joan of Arc was an individualist, as was Copernicus, Galileo, Jesus Christ, Martin Luther, Christopher Columbus, and Thomas Edison. I find myself in very good company, as an individualist, and I've always felt good about it. Don't try to make me feel bad about it.
And, as for "community," it's a lie to say that individualists can't be a part of a co-operative group. They can, they do, and many are good at it--witness the founding of all those "communities."
Now, get out of my way, I've got work and play to do.