Thoughts on the Individual

Preceding my previous article entitled Slavery, whose link if you have not read it already I shall adhere below and whose acerbic title I still have half a mind to change, received a perplexing amount of response. For this I am both dually proud and happy, to have written (somehow) something of any degree of interest. Confounded… really.

However, in the spirit of journalism, knowledge, opinionated perspective and the truth as a platonic, tangible thing I am compelled to answer one particular question which came to me via a character who beyond anonymity will remain in reference as “My Greatest Supporter.” I will of course attempt to answer the question while integrated in some school relevance which I find particularly pertinent.

My Greatest Supporter divulged a question relayed by an old teacher of mine who will remain nameless but who should be noted educated me on the matters of Theory of Knowledge or for us IB invalids, TOK.

The questions is as thus:  “Now here is something to think about. The quote says we all have the right to choose. What about the people and inevitably there will be at least some if not many, who choose to remain in bondage? Is that a valid choice or do those who choose to break their bonds have the right and responsibility to then choose for those others and break down the system in general? Can two systems exist side by side at the same time or does the acceptance of one mean the destruction of the other?”

It is a regular, if not constant thing to observe history if not everyday life on the basis of the dichotomy. That is the perfect polarization of factors, into two distinct sides. A few notable, albeit hackneyed examples are Light and Dark, Good and Evil, Death and Life, and so on.

From here on, I cannot continue with expressing my own, unfiltered bias. I am of course narrating my opinion, so it would be unjust to expect anything but. Anything but my opinion, of course.

Anyhow, subject to a definite human perspective is the act of polarization or juxtaposition of factors which is something simply inevitable for a human mind. It may be done whilst ignoring the obvious contradiction and discrepancies, however, this form of apophenia is a constant for most. We are taught to view conflicts as polar duels, Oppression vs Freedom, God vs Man, Fascism vs Liberty, France vs England, or as will be viewed now the individual vs society.

In a historical context, as viewed by the question, the issue can be derived by a bit of a simplification of the question: How can an individual live in a society where every individual seeks to be just that, an individual?

Where can we draw the line?

As we can see, through countless of examples that human beings do not agree, the consensus is impossible and the opinions range farther and farther apart. It is hard to disagree that nowadays the individual has not become more and more important in our personal views. As a cultural phenomenon, the importance of our own ideas, our own voice, our own perspective has expanded exponentially.

Culture, world culture is more and more centered on a personality, not a community, nation or society. The world has slowly become a matter of perspective rather than truth. This truth has ceased to exist, as all has become subjective.

We replaced collectivity with individualism. Mobs with leaders, truths with opinions.

I am not writing to derail and discredit this fact. No, I am here to point it out as a change and the implications are obvious and vast, especially if we attempt to adapt to an old world order.

It seems nowadays, that a minority is less and less an ethnicity or a demographic if not a single human being, whose voice can match the opinion of any.

What is the consequence of our own self-importance? Of our own self-entitlement? Agreement seems to have ceased to exist. All is now in debate. All is now a matter of opinion. And no opinion is false. All is valid, all is acceptable.

And no opinion is false. All is valid, all is acceptable.

In a world where every individual is so validated, there is simply less and less space to agree, less and less space for cooperation.

Last weekend, 4 days ago to be precise, on Saturday, a small company of the students of EMIS attempted to solve the age long question that has plagued our body since the beginning of the year.

What to do with the club? (The Club: A small, partially empty building, currently used for meetings and cooking.)

Projects were pitched, plans graphed and illustrated, costs estimated and presentations given, and yet still, the discussion degraded quickly into a sludge of pragmatic disagreements where it seemed once again what some would agree were trivial matters had spiraled into heated debate on couch scarcity.

Only a week before then, a small detachment of well animated students also attempted to make certain amendments on the institutions schedule. The well planned MK1 of the schedule debuted on the students Facebook group and immediately became the ravenous subject of contentious disagreement. In almost no time at all, the discussion and matter seemed to have built itself into what I can only describe as a political party system, formed under such pretences as either adding 15 minutes before class or leaving a particular break at 20 minutes rather than 15.

Such triviality had ensconced us all with the highest of volatility and we were immediately raving our highest rhetoric on matters spanning from wall color to whether to cut school at 2:00pm rather than 3:00pm.

I confess I was probably the crassest member of these debates.

However, the question remains: How can we possibly hope to form a society, if we cannot agree on the most trivial?

And so, for what I hope is a neatly comely point of circumvention, we return to the initial question.

Inevitably there are minorities, those who don’t agree, those who agree less, those who agree too much, or those who really don’t give a damn either way. The world, the communities, the nations, the settlements, they are all controversial.

Who can possibly lead a group of people when no one can agree? Can one opinion possibly be held above the others? Is that what leadership is? What society can possibly sustain itself and respect all peoples it comprises?

I don’t know. I don’t think there is a system that can respect all opinions, and at the same time be functional in any way. The truth is, I believe, that nowadays, we all hold our own importance above anything else. This is not inherently bad, but we should at least reason that if we are to be entirely rigid in our beliefs, then agreement is close to impossible.

If we are too truly unite, as people, as individuals, if we are truly willing to work together, either as a society, as a group, as a team, as a nation, as a world, we need to give in.

We must secede at least a little of who and what we are.

We must realize that there are things which might not be worth fighting for and things that are worth giving in too.

Some might find this humble.

Some might find this weak.

And most of you may believe I have contradicted myself in my previous article.

Here is the dichotomy. The Individual vs Society.  Do I choose myself, or society?

The grand clash and duel within us and perhaps a titanic portion of history.

How much of myself am I willing to give?

You may believe “All” or You might believe “None” or you might believe there is a balance to be had. The answer does not matter, all are equally correct, all are equally wrong.

What matters, in my opinion, is that we are all individuals. That, regardless of what we may choose, to believe, see, hear or think. We are all individuals. Equal, one to another.

We are all individuals, humans, all the same.

Written by Carlos Sevilla

Edited by Peter Mangi

Copy-edited by Maria Tirnovanu


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