From the time I was very young I was raised to be independent. I embraced this encouragement with great gusto and fervor. I have always been kind of my own person, with minimal influence from other people. I defiantly have had difficulty conforming to what others would want me to think and do. Now this independence causes me to wrestle with the issue of individualism.
I will be the first to admit the challenge of talking about individualism. On the one hand we can lose sight of the fact that we are fearfully and wonderfully made to be ourselves. On the other hand it is easy to come off sounding like a proponent of Communism. I wonder if there is a middle ground we can call communitarianism (I made up the word to fit my purposes).
There is not much debate that we live in a me centered culture here in the United States, and we have begun to export this to other cultures and societies. In this me centered culture we have mistaken our independence for a license to do whatever it is that we want, or what feels best to us. Our primary determinate of right or wrong is an internal compass, which is determined by each individual. The end result is a society which the 'rights' and desires of the individual overrides the community. A further result is we fail to allow community standards influence our lives.
Here is an example. In new York State most of the major Interstate highways have a speed limit of 65mph. Have you ever driven just 65mph on one of these roads. Everyone is passing you, as if you were not even moving. Many, myself included, travel around 70-72mph. Others even faster. On the occasion someone is pulled over for speeding, is the response, well they caught me? No, most of the response is anger, or frustration, after all there were others going faster. Why were we singled out? Could it be we were breaking a community standard.
Now that is not a perfect example, but I think we can see how many of us do not like to submit to a community standard. Our personal agenda becomes the most important thing. I wonder if we can truly experience community with God if we are focused on ourselves above all else. Perhaps some the debates destroying the Body of Christ would simply go away if individualism decreased and communitarianism increased. What would happen if we were to truly follow the teaching of Christ which tells us to deny ourselves. What if the body of Christ became a community where following Jesus what the community standard, and the community was more important than the individual.