OPINION — The biggest divide in our society today isn’t necessarily a political one. It’s not red states versus blue states or even left versus right, one political party versus the other.
The most significant divide we face is an ethical one that comes down to the individual versus the collective.
In a nutshell, individualists believe in respecting the sanctity of the inherent rights of every individual without regard to their race, sex, religion or credit score. As living, breathing human beings, we have natural rights that absolutely limit the power of others over us.
Collectivists, on the other hand, hold that our rights are communal in nature and subject to the whims of the majority. This means that collectivism is willing to sacrifice the rights of some individuals for the sake of a nebulous “greater good” enjoyed by the majority.
You can guess which side of this equation is obsessed with trying to control the people around them and which one is content to let others peacefully make their own choices.
When it comes to providing genuine solutions to the various challenges that are a part of modern life, individualism is a better bet than collectivism. A handful of of principled individuals can exercise greater positive influence than a large herd of pliable followers.
This is because of the undeniable power of example and the fact that individuals who persuade and inspire us to voluntarily stand for something, change hearts and minds in ways that mere threats of force can never do.
For this reason, collectivists have sought to gain control of as many societal institutions as possible, for the purpose of training us out of our individuality. Guilt and fear are their favorite tools to manipulate us into doing their bidding.
Because individualists do not accept group supremacy, collectivists often portray them as being selfish and insensitive to the needs of others. That theme is common in schools today. If children are not willing to go along with the group, they are described as socially disruptive and not good “team players” or a (sic) good citizens. … But individualism is not based on ego. It is based on principle.
This is one reason why collectivists are so fond of using scary labels in a desperate attempt to keep us off balance and divided. It’s also why they are often practitioners of a particularly loathsome form of collectivism known as identity politics.
An excellent primer on the history and goals of identity politics can be found in an article by Matthew Continetti titled “The Problem of Identity Politics and Its Solution.”
We saw an example of this mischief play out last week in Utah as a student named Keziah Daum found herself being castigated by social justice collectivists over the dress she wore to her prom.
— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 22, 2018
When Daum posted four snapshots of her prom night to Twitter, she was accused of “cultural appropriation” by a foul-mouthed young man who chose to be offended by the dress she wore.
My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress. https://t.co/vhkNOPevKD
— Jeremy Lam (@jere_bare) April 27, 2018
Her dress wasn’t overly revealing or disrespectful in any way. It did, however have Asian influences and Daum is not Asian.
How much crippling resentment does a person have to harbor to see a young woman in a lovely dress as a symbol of oppression and mockery? To group identity collectivists, failure to see Daum’s choice of clothing as some sort of micro-aggression against all Asians constitutes a provocation that should have everyone howling with outrage.
When someone is that intent on finding offense for the purpose of wielding weaponized guilt as a tool to gain control over others, it’s a no-win situation. The best thing we can do is refuse to play their silly game.
The way to get through this ideological swamp is to instead focus on becoming the best individuals we can be.
When we are engaged in our own individual hero’s journey rather than hissing and spitting over our preoccupation with who or what we resent, we become a civilized force for good rather than more division.
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson spells it out:
I think that’s the way you show people the right path forward, too. You say, well look, we would like it so much if you could thrive as an individual. Drop your cult-like affiliation. Step out of the shadows, the demonic shadows of your ideological possession, and step forward as a fully-developed person into the light. Do it by example. That’s your best bet, man. That’s what it looks like to me.
Collectivism absolves us from personal responsibility and encourages us to stagnate in our development. Heroic individualism requires that we have skin in the game.
The higher our objective, the more refined our methods should be to achieve it.
A better world starts with the conscious refusal to surrender our sovereignty to collectivism of any sort.
Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events and liberty viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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