Have you ever had an idea, but not been able to find a word or words to describe it? That is my situation. I have a belief in something, but I cannot find a term in the dictionary or Google that expresses that belief. This belief is sufficiently strong in me that I decided to create my own term for it. It is my hope that it will go viral because I believe it is important.
First, let me tell you what I believe.
I believe that human beings, you and me, are individuals with a strong need to be individualistic. We need to be able to do our own thing. But I also believe we are social animals. We very much want to be around other people. More than just wanting to be around other people, we need to around other people. These two needs, the individual need and the social need, are very close to being balanced. Very close, but not exactly. One of them is slightly more important than the other.
When I say slightly, I really do mean slightly. The purpose of society in my view is to enable the individual to do his own thing. When you sum up everything human society does for us, it all comes down to allowing individuals to be individuals. But, the individual cannot truly do that without a society. We need a society—need other people—to be our best. We must have the preservation of that society. And that means the society is a bit more important than the individual.
A society can exist without any particular individual, but each individual will struggle without the society. Imagine some kind of catastrophe. Perhaps there is a wildfire and many people have been burnt and need help. The emergency crews need to cut across the land of a very cranky person. That cranky person denies the emergency crews permission to come on his land. But going around his land will take hours (it’s a big ranch). Should the emergency crews honor his decisions or just cut across the ranch anyway? I say they should cut across. If you agree you are agreeing that the need of the society, those hurt individuals, are more important than the need of that cranky person. Here’s another example, imagine our country is invaded by some enemy; an invading arming is storming the beach of California or Florida or Texas. Would it be okay to draft young people to serve in the military to fight that army, even though they could be killed? If you say yes, then you are saying that society comes first.
Anyway, that is what I believe. We are a society and we are individuals. Both elements are almost as important as the other, but the society is a bit more important. The purpose of a society should be to help each individual that makes up that society, but the society as a whole must survive and is more important than any one person. I cannot prove this. I am not sure this is the type of thing you can prove. I do, however, believe it to be true.
I do not think this is a very far-fetched idea, and I think most people will probably agree with me, if I made myself clear on what I mean. (Although, I am certain many will not agree.) I think the United States is a good example of a society based on this idea. The United States Constitution creates a nation, but also provides rights to individuals. So you would think there would already be a term for this concept. Maybe there is, but I have not found it. So unless someone can clue me to what the correct word is I have decided to call this belief “social individualism.”
I think it has a nice ring to it. It contains the concept of our social needs and our individual needs. And it implies that the social comes first. This term, “social individualism” does not seem to be in use. I looked it up on Google and only came up with a few hits. So I am going to claim it for my own uses and hope that it catches on.
A gun gives you the body, not the bird. -Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)