Essay on The, Individualism, And The American Of American Culture

Essay on The, Individualism, And The American Of American Culture

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The Unites States was established as a result of a struggle between autonomy and autocracy, and from this fight for freedom emerged a new idea that became vital to the American identity- individualism. According to Robert Bellah, “Individualism lies at the very core of American culture”, and it is absolutely basic to the American identity. Americans value and preserve the individual, and condemn anything that would undermine or violate the rights of the individual. Even though, as Bellah points out, individuality is the foundation of our aspirations, it is also the root of some of our greatest difficulties as individuals and a society. Contrary to the classical ideas of individualism, modern individualism derives from the biological individual and creates a social order based on the individual: it is not derived from any biblical or religious duties. Whereas biblical and classical individualism places the individual in context of society, Bellah argues that, “The individual is prior to society...” and the society only exists because of the voluntary actions of individuals to join together and create one. Although modern individualism has existed for a while along with Christianity and classical traditions, it has only recently become more prominent, resulting in the abandonment of biblical and republican traditions. Although the shift towards modern individualism has led to the rejection of certain customs that allowed for inequality under biblical and republican traditions, as Bellah claims, it has also unearthed the problems with modern individualism that had been ignored for years. Bellah prompts the questions, does the modern individualism in America allow self-contained individuals to sustain “…either a public or private life...


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...d by the community and the community can help us. In my opinion, I believe that the whole, or the community, is much greater than its single parts, or individuals. I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for the community I was raised in. But that does not mean that we should sacrifice all of who we are for the greater whole. There are things that society values that I do not, and I refuse to conform who I am to appease the community. As an individual who thinks on my own I have the opportunity to stand out and correct the injustices I believe permeate our society. However I cannot achieve change on my own: I need a community of likeminded individuals to propel a movement and bring our community to a higher level of goodness. In my opinion, the individual can only do so little, but a community of individuals with a common goal can achieve extraordinary things.

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