In American society, it is expected, even celebrated, to be a unique individual. Individualism carries over to every part of our lives. We have individual diet plans, individual work schedules, individual TV shows, cars, Gods, roads, clothes and of course this list could go on and on.
We have these things because as a society we are devoted to promoting the individual’s material and physical happiness. Indeed this is the entire point of Capitalism, but at a cost, of course. It is this individualism which allows for bootstrap bill to pull himself up, for an immigrant to enter the country with nothing and die a millionaire- but, it is also one of the sources of our current dillusion. This is not a place for me to tell you that humans are social animals. ”Being social” can easily be fulfilled in our society.
Rather, humans are communal animals. We strive not just for social engagements, but real communities. James Madison recognized this during the founding of this nation, and indeed place strong emphasis on the role of small communities(Federalist Paper #10). In fact, Madison considered healthy communities essential to the survival of the Republic. And so we must ask, then, what constitutes a healthy community? I’ve jotted down a few ideas:
- Like Minded Individuals- People who share a common cause, God and/or belief
- Willingness to Work Together- A community can only be sustained through shared work values
- Rule of the Majority- The concentration of power in individuals, or groups of individuals, is of great concern to the welfare of the community
- Safeguard liberty- While the wholeness of the community to paramount, the individual liberties of all must be protected, regardless of sex, wealth, religion, physical location, etc
- Self-sustained- It is pointless to form communities if they are not able to stand on their own. The true strength of a community is rooted in liberty.
I’m writing about communities because I feel this missing component will be one of the major projects to tackle in rebuilding American society. In this I mean we either have an obligation to carve out a more perfect union from our current society, or carve out a more perfect union from the remnants of what is left.