Community And The Individual
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Politics and Activism

Community And The Individual

Looking at the individuals place amongst the community.

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Community And The Individual

In modern times, especially given the development of technology and communication at an increasingly fast rate, individual identity often seems to be lost in the larger sense of community. Especially in countries like America, most people have access to cell phones or computers nearly every minute of every day. Few people are ever truly out of reach. Professional fields, in whichever one happens to be employed (or in which one is working toward being employed), are all based on a substantial amount of work in the past by other people. Most aspects of everyday life, from material and even spiritual, are the product of work by other members in the community. Even language, something taken completely for granted by nearly everyone, is given to us by our relationships with other individuals. Language is such an integral part of each person that it's hard to comprehend how different life would be without it. Even when thinking about how different life would be without language, I'm thinking in English. People are clearly social creatures. The question, then, is what sets us apart from one another as individuals.

"A man's value to the community depends primarily on how far his feelings, thoughts, and actions are directed towards promoting the good of his fellows"
-Albert Einstein, The World As I See It-

At first glance, this interpretation of an individual's true worth seems to be based upon community instead of the individual themselves. However, a closer examination shows this not to be the case. To begin, there are many different forms of "promoting the good of [one's] fellows." The most obvious one is an individual doing work to help those less well-off than themselves. Another way to view this is individuals who have made scientific advancements that have moved along the development of society as a whole. The steam engine is one such advancement. Compassion supplies the motivation to help those in need. Compassion is rooted in the feelings of an individual, and has little to do with one's community. Compassion can bring groups of people together in an attempt to collaborate and make a difference, but the motivation itself still comes from the individual. History is full of people who have taken on seemingly impossible burdens in order to help their fellows. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are two classic examples of this. Scientific advancements, similarly, are often the result of a single person's dream and inspiration. Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell are the reasons for the existence of the light bulb, easily accessible electricity, and the telephone. True accomplishment, then, is when an individual, not a community, uses their talents to make a real positive difference in the lives of others.

In order to make a real, lasting, positive difference in their community, an individual must find that which sets them apart from their fellows. Each individual has different motivations to accomplish different goals. It's not easy for one to find the aspect of themselves that is the most unique from the community and other individuals. However, once one has found that aspect of their personality, that individual will know exactly what it is they would like to accomplish.

"Only the individual can think, and thereby create new values for society"
-Albert Einstein, The World As I See It-

While community can provide a solid basis for an individual to perform positive actions, the positive actions themselves remain the choice of the individual. Community, in order to continue to progress, requires individuals to both remain in close contact with one another and to access the different aspects of themselves in order to improve the community. It's a difficult balance to maintain, but every individual has within them the ability to define themselves as both individuals and a part of their community.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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