Illusory Individuality

656 Words3 Pages
Which is more valuable: the needs of the many of the needs of the one? It is a question that has been explored all throughout the world and all throughout human history. From the collectivist societies of the Eastern Hemisphere to the individualistic cultures of the Western, everyone has their own opinion on the subject and it is doubtful that a universally accepted answer will ever be found. The United States of America tends to answer “the one.” The freedom to pursue one’s dreams and desires is one of the founding principles of the county – promised in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed in the Constitution – however, American history reveals that that oftentimes the “individuality” that is accepted is the “individuality” that is approved of by the collective.
The arrival of the Puritans to what would later become the United States of America is a shining example of the individualism that the country was founded on - a group of people rebel against a society which tried to force their beliefs on another and the group leaves to pursue their individual ideals. This is ironic on two fronts. First, the Puritans were intolerant of other religions and viewpoints that contradicted their own. Anne Hutchinson’s and Roger William’s exile from the Puritan colonies due to conflicting religious beliefs exemplifies the Puritan intolerance.
Second, the Puritan faith was absurdly restrictive. While they did believe in recreation and relaxation, rejoicing in God was considered true relaxation and things like theater, gambling, music, art, and dancing as “poison” (Daniels). Increase Mather, a Puritan minister, wrote on the subject of dancing, “The miserable Dancer knoweth not, that as many Paces as he makes in Dancing, so many step...

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... era to the Witch Trials of the Puritanical times. The media made it all the easier to influence the minds of the masses while masking marionette motions as original thought (idk if this makes sense I just like the alliteration.) Instead of outright rules and restrictions controlling the actions of the people, social conventions are what prevented people from truly expressing themselves. In the Catcher in the Rye, “ I’m always saying ‘Glad to’ve met you’ to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff though” showcases this mind set (Salinger). There’s more stuff but I don’t know what to do. Halp.

American history has shown the struggle between the individual and the collective. The more sinister aspects of individualism show that the world his painted with shades of gray and not in harsh blacks and stark whites.
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