Ponder this: Has the U.S. lost sight of the individual?

Troy Marshall

October 22, 2015

3 Min Read
Ponder this: Has the U.S. lost sight of the individual?

Without question, America has changed and is changing. I don’t believe anything has accelerated that change more than the recent belief that we are not responsible for the outcome of our lives. If one accepts that there are too many outside factors which shape our reality, it helps us accept the feeling of powerlessness that our government seems to want us to accept.

Our founding fathers believed in the power of the individual. Today we are told that the individual is a myth, that it takes an entire community and that no one individual truly has the power to effect a positive outcome. We are now told that we are a product of our circumstances. Passivity is the new virtue, while action is actually looked down upon. 

As a result, words that used to distinguish an individual in a positive way—words like discipline, effort and work—are seen as violating the key tenant of politically-correct acceptance. Those who work to master a trade or a craft, who shape the world in a positive way, are considered almost to be evil. The conventional wisdom of the moment says it is these types of individuals who oppress us, that power earned is inherently bad and that power is to be bestowed upon those who have exhibited a nobility as defined by acceptance, rather than a nobility defined by achievement. 

Government is seen as the answer, and since all governments are driven by the quest to maintain power, governments have the incentive to lower our sights, our dreams, our goals. A government that forgets its job is to help its people and not dictate to them wants you to diminish your effort, to accept a lack of discipline; in effect to lower your effectiveness below the level where an individual can rise and achieve something great. It wants us to believe that the problems we face are too far out of our control and that we cannot affect them individually, but rather that we must collectively rely on the government to address them. The government encourages a level of passivity that keeps us from stopping its ever-growing encroachment into our everyday lives. 

Is there any wonder why religious or business leaders are seen as evil? They champion the power of individual choice, they believe in the existence of rights and wrongs and they champion action over passivity and the power of the individual to affect not only their own lives but the world in a positive way. The popular media tells us our heroes should be those who care more deeply, not those who have created something positive for others; that our heroes should not be those who have sacrificed greatly but rather sports figures or entertainers who were simply born with some special talent controlled more by genetics and luck than work and perseverance. 

Regardless of which side of the aisle you come from, you recognize that Reagan is the most beloved and most hated president of recent times. That’s because he was unique in that he believed in the power of the individual in American exceptionalism, and for a brief moment was able to override the passivity that the system requires to increase its power. 

I can understand those who are dismayed that the electorate seems to be toying with the idea of making men like Bernie Saunders or Donald Trump president. Yet it excites me deeply because I don’t believe they are standing in line with these individuals, as much as they are saying we are no longer willing to accept the benevolent passivity that the ruling class on both sides is embracing. Whichever candidate can give voice to that sentiment will be our next president. The field has effectively been winnowed down to 10 or so players. Here’s hoping that one emerges.

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