Is individualism a good or bad thing?

Individualism in the 21st century

From very small all of us start to learn individualism, we may not realise this is what we are learning but with re-enforcements from parents, teachers and peers we soon begin to experience ourselves and those around us as individuals. We begin the process of labelling each other and ourselves, Matt’s rich, Katie’s an artist, Gordon’s good at sport. We start to see where we fit in life, and who we associate with. Groups start to form of likeminded individuals, and labels soon follow to identify each other. I am French I am Scottish, I am Male, I am Female. This is a good thing right?

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Individualism is welcomed and even encouraged in our society as a good thing. Finding what your good at and enjoy, what you like and dislike is all normal behaviour. You and I have been participating in this game all our lives.

We find our passions, what we like and dislike. We find the right type of work befitting to our character maybe that’s manual work or working in an office. We find what types of food we like, books to read music to listen too. We also gain country, religious, race and sexual identities. By the age of 20 most people have formed so many characteristics we can easy state; Josh, he is a white Male, heterosexual, of no particular religion, wants to be an engineer, likes football, swimming and T.V. All very normal behaviour. So is it actually good behaviour?

I do actually indeed salute individualism and believe it plays an important role in our societies and lives of today. However I am also a firm believer and advocate of the complete opposite of individualism that of similar-ism , or togetherness, and how we are also very much more alike than individual. I feel this vital piece of information is missing from our educated lives and if we can only see how alike we all really are, I see a real beginning to the ending of racism, sexism, and religious conflict.

If we could truly understand how more alike than different we are, I see the start of a kinder more understanding society that starts to loose its hatred for other religions, countries or the colour of skin. If we could only see how our brothers and sisters from every corner of the world are more alike than individual, maybe, just maybe, our collective consciousness can have a shift in its thinking and start to distribute the wealth, food, water, and medicine more fairly.

How does this shift in consciousness begin? If I take a look at the person next to me I only see differences? How do I associate myself with someone on the other side of the world?

This all starts with recognising and embracing our similarities, seeing how each and every single one of us experiences pain, disappointment, anger, boredom, happiness, in exactly the same way. How my happiness is the exact same feeling of pleasure you also experience. The difference is the intensity of that happiness and the context in which it arose. The pain of loosing a child is exactly the same sadness no matter where you grew up, what education you received, religion you support, job you do, or football team you support. The intensity and context for arising will always be different.

As humans we experience the world through our 5 senses. The sense of smell, touch, taste, sound and sight these sense impressions are then experienced within our six sense, that of the consciousness and can only be experienced in three ways. They will be either positive, negative or neutral. Since everyone reading this is a human everyone of us experience the world around us in exactly the same way. The education, parents, health, country and a trillion billion other possibilities happen to create different contexts and levels of intensity for us to experience pain, or hatred, happiness or love. This illusion of individualism gives rise to an impression and feeling that no one can truly understand my suffering believing that this is personally happing Me, I or Mine.

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Everyone of us is living and experiencing life exactly the same way. We all suffer with anger, frustrations, love, fears, and anxieties. We are a complicated bunch on an individualistic level. But as we start to see these same similarities of experiencing the world, we start to see that everyone is our brothers and sister no matter what side of the world you come from. We soon develop a deep empathetic compassion for the other, no matter who he/she maybe. We see the others suffer as our suffering is to us and can only have compassion for say the shop keeper who might have been a little bit off with you this morning.

I honestly believe if we could truly start to see this simple truth of life, if we could just start to teach our children this fact, that we are more similar than individual, I can only see a better and better society of individuals but also of common unity. After all we have given ourselves the proud and noble title of MANKIND so let’s try to live up too this Kindness we so proudly named ourselves, and see how the suffering and it’s pain associated are felt by us all. How the elations and joys of life are also felt by us all. Then we will begin to act more kindly towards our fellow man and truly live up to the name MANKIND.

Kind regards

Dhamma Tāpasā

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