Like hair growing, we have grown and mainly unnoticed, quite different in regard to family and the power of the communal family in how it sustains our cultures and local communities. There was once a time when the whole of life moved forward in the family, in a circle of loved, familiar faces, known and caressed as rare treasures in human size. I wonder if this ‘growth’ we call civilization, prosperity, and modern secularism (individualism) will amputate the generations of progress made by our ancestors?
Truly, we have become a nation of individuals. The community – of yesteryear defined our manhood and womanhood. It nurtured our societal development and responsibility and deepened our communal roots. Is the “community” now a silent and forgotten bystander? What does “neighbor” really mean in the lexicon of modern man?
The downside of individualism is a calm and considered feeling which disposes each citizen to isolate himself or herself from our fellow humanity and withdrawal into the circle of close family and the friends of old whom we feel safe. This lifestyle seems to be our preferred taste which leaves the greater society to look after itself. The result is that each person is forever thrown back upon himself alone, and there is a danger that he or she may be shut up in the solitude of their own heart. In my humble opinion, this is where we are at today – thrown back upon ourselves and in the solitude of our own hearts. Other than superficial “hellos” at work, in passing, and our shallow conversations, many if not most of us are disconnected from this life-giving organism we call “community.”
How much we are truly suffering from the cultural shift and choice of “individualism” has yet to come into full bloom. We can look back upon recent history and recognize that social welfare is oftentimes social warfare in its unraveling of the threads of social responsibility. Communities of yesteryear would bond together to ensure the well-being of neighborhoods regardless of economic class. But when the incentives of social handouts manifested to affect “individuals” – incentives not to work, not care, not to take part in the social tapestry also manifested in the form of poverty, urban blight, and pregnancies out of wrong motives to manipulate the handouts. Abortion is culturally proportional and more of lucrative business than a right.
The culture of academic elitism has contributed to the current state of the union and our assault on social and communal values. Newly educated classes of people or cultures have been especially likely to specialize in softer core subjects and to be prominent among those fostering hostility toward traditional values while promoting ethnic identity and individualistic movements. Such movements have been typically mobilized against other social or communal groups, the existing authorities, and other targets that would stand in the way of the “new cultural agenda”. In various periods of history, the academic and religious intelligentsia in general, and the newly educated classes of people in particular have promoted social decay in ignorance and without understanding the prophetic and long term significance of their beliefs.
Whether at the level of minority activists in a given local society or at the leadership level of national revolts against external powers – promoters of cultural and societal individualism have been disproportionately intellectuals and intellectuals from a very limited range of fields. Very few nationalist militants, ultra-religious, or socialist leaning politicians were and are engineers, economists, scientists, or skilled professional administrators. As an African student once quoted in regard to the modern generation of African leaders during the transition from colonial status to that of independent nationhood: “…K. Nakuma was a British educated lawyer, J. Kenyatta was a anthropologist, J. Kasabuvu was a teacher, and L.S. Sengor a poet just to name a few. Much the same pattern could and can be found in other parts of the world as well…” Leaders of the Basque separatist movement in Spain and the Quebec separatist movement in Canada were also birthed and promoted by soft subject intellectuals who lack critical thinking and prophetic/spiritual wisdom.
The current social landscape is changing, eroding and is coming into prophetic clarity. How we prophesy truth and resolution will require much wisdom and I certainly do not have all the answers. However, the powers and systems which are creating the world’s social sickness are coming into plain view for those who possess understanding. Maybe, just maybe, you are the neighbor who will change your community and repair the threads that have been severed? Perhaps, even within your region and country…