Collectivism vs Individualism

It might surprise some people that I am about to argue we need to become more individual and less collective in society. The common view, generally, is the opposite. In a world where the gap between disadvantaged and privileged is ever increasing, it seems that we need to include more and more people in a larger society in order to ensure everyone has a decent standard of living. Also, it seems that people generally only care about their own self-interests with little regard for others. While this is absolutely true, I am speaking more specifically within North American culture and especially of social interactions.

It has been somewhat of a common theme on this blog in the past little while with both of us discussing different aspects of artistic vs. social beings, the quest for rational thought and happiness, and now collectivism and individualism. All of these are somewhat related to a larger concept of a quest for knowledge and how best to achieve this. While there are obviously huge benefits in learning from other, wiser, people, the truth is that our society is not properly adapted to do so in an efficient manner. For example, we generally worry more about issues of social acceptance and interaction, of relationships, and of judgement than we do of our own personal accomplishments and intellectual evolution. We do things because we are asked to do them, not out of our own willpower and desires.

A rational human being must, first and foremost, be in pursuit of his/her own knowledge in order to properly interact with others, and extract the most possible from the world. We are only alive for a limited amount of time, and yet we waste so much of it to external pressures instead of personal satisfaction and internal motives.

We don't do enough in order to properly experience the world in front of us on the level of senses and feelings. We don't submit ourselves to enough variety in our lives. I think, for this reason, we need to become more individual. We need to forget many of the external forces and somehow go through a phase of self-discovery. So many people have no hobbies that they end up being very dependant on others for their entire lives. People end up doing what is easiest in life simply because they have no goals or interests to pursue other than the bare essentials. Television is a perfect example of this. I find it disgusting and sad that so many people would waste hours of their time with such unconstructive "entertainment". Of course, we all need to wind down and relax, but it can be done in an equally productive manner.

We must go out and learn things on our own and through the distribution of knowledge much as was done hundreds of years ago with the likes of oral storytelling, an art that has almost completely been lost. We can no longer properly communicate to each other, but we feel dependant on each other's presences nonetheless because somehow it is easier to do so than be lonely and hobbyless at home. We have no interests other than self-preservation interests. Will I succeed in school? Will I have a job? Will I get married and have children? What do my friends think of me? Will I have money to pay for food, rent, and my car this month? These common questions are the basics of life, and are, of course, essential. But at the same time, they consume so much of our lives that we cannot cultivate ourselves properly.

Our society will never change because the structure is inherently flawed and it is flawed in such a way that it will stay like this until there is a conscious collective awakening. Nevertheless, I have to stress how crucial it is for us to experience things on a primitive level. Re-do activities as if it were the first time you were doing them and reflect on them. Seek out new knowledge and see where that brings you. Look at common activities with a different perspective. Examine your own life and see how you can improve on it. Find ways to constructively use your spare time and find ways to maximize the amount of time that you do have for these activities. Eliminate waste and wasteful activities. I'll have all the meat, but none of the fat, please.


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