“It takes a village to raise an idiot.”
Why does it only take a village to raise an idiot but not a person?
Only through community can one become an individual. This is a key thing that no one seems to think about in life. I think that this is an entirely under-appreciated aspect of life as an individual if you’re a person who enjoys the individual. Being a U.S. citizen it is almost my civic duty to support the individual entire, just we aren’t ever told how to do that.
Anyway, think about it, throughout your life you get told to be yourself, live your own life, take the road less traveled, etc. etc. etc. But how do you take that first step? That leap of faith? You need to have firm ground from which to start it seems, in other words, in order to jump off the cliff you need a steady cliff.
This jump is where the individual is made in my opinion, where a person is swept off their metaphorical feet of their community and forced to build a new ground below them. In order to build this new ground though, the individual has to know what it feels like though. They have to know the firmness of the ground, the warmth or chill of it, even the rosebushes on this ground.
This idea, this need of an original anchor for someone to let go off in order to be an individual, has never been directly addressed in my education, to my knowledge. It may have been dealt with in some ways and just gone over my head, but for me this discussion simply has not seriously been had in my life. It is just assumed that I can become my own individual without anything to start with. I couldn’t possibly be the individual I am today though without having had my original community to live in, my tiny town that is barely ever on a map and a family that was stable and loving. This little community gave me a ground upon which I could take my first steps, this community gave me both the ground and the fuel to later on take some massive jumps to separate myself from the community, break myself off from all of the habits, thoughts, prejudices and assumptions of this community. But this community also gave me a sense of life and knowing that there can be something beneath my feet if I look for it or make it myself. I think it has paid off for me.
It is hard to find this community though, children live in broken homes, apartment complexes where one does not even know their own neighbor and there is no sense of any type of history to the family, to their lives, to their home. They essentially have no ground upon which to stand, no anchor. All they have is free-fall. People have “individuality” but there aren’t too many individuals to be found due to this lack of original jumping off point for the individual (I think anyway). If this type of thing isn’t a serious issue, I probably never will know what one is.
In order to fix this though is going to require a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of re-thinking on the part of U.S. citizens. There is no cure-all or immediate fix to this as we like to imagine exists for getting healthy and any other problem we come upon in this country. It will take a concerted effort to come to understanding “self-interest rightly understood” (as Tocqueville called it) again.
The first step is going to be teaching ourselves self-interest rightly understood again.