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Radical individualism and rootlessness; The importance of community.

23 July 2010

There is a connection that exists between having roots somewhere, and being able to live a healthy human life. Real community is not just a group of people living near each other but a group of people living side by side with interdependence upon each other.

The crisis of community that exists in this country is in part due to our culture’s emphasis on placing individual rights before individual responsibilities. This radical individualist mentality tells people to live for themselves and themselves only. Humans today are led to believe that they should in every sense be the ruler of their own lives and they should go where they want to go and be who ever they want to be. This individualist mindset removes any sense of duty to a certain piece of land or group of people. As Americans, we are restless. We are constantly moving, constantly searching for something better: a new job, a bigger home, or a better school.

Oswald Chambers wrote that “when we are in an unhealthy state physically or emotionally, we always want thrills,” we seek constant change. Living in a nation that seeks change as much as ours, this is a warning that we should seriously consider.

Despite praises of modern technology, modern convenience, and our ever increasing ability to have the world at our fingertips, I’m not so sure that this progress, so called, is such an unqualified good. The trend toward globalization is turning human beings into economic units and causing us to forget that we are also, first and foremost, spiritual beings created in God‘s image.

This is a toxic trend, and if true community is to be preserved we must stop treating human beings as mere biological, economical, or political creatures, and instead treat them as if they have souls capable of love, labor, and ultimately worship.

Today, there are temptations lurking around every corner. temptations calling us to uproot ourselves. Temptations to take that new job, move into that bigger home, or attend that better school, to seek more and more for ourselves. However, we all need to push back against that kind of individualist thinking and once again recognize that we have a duty to look after our own community and the people in it.

My fear is that the traditional understanding of community may turn out to be a thing of the past. And if that is the case then we, much like a tree with shallow roots, will not have the resources we need to persevere through life’s storms when they inevitably assail us.


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