By Valerie Rice | November 16, 2020
Once upon a time I was blasting my death metal and writing, when I got a call from my friend in India. I do so love these calls because he tells me about his country and culture which is vastly different from ours, and I wondered…How much nicer would it be if we took a lesson from others? Now, I am not saying we need to be completely like another country, but there is a particular difference between the U.S. and other cultures that has bothered me since the early days of my education. We are fiercely individualistic. Now, anyone who has taken a sociology course knows this, but we tuck it away in our brains and think no more of it. Well, until we get to election season, and people view collectivist traits a socialist. WHAT? Follow me a bit here, would ya? We are a nation of immigrants, whether some of us like it or not, and if we actually stay true to the melting pot concept we could probably do great things. Let’s see what we could do if we were a bit more collectivist, shall we?
THE GREATER GOOD
First and foremost is the idea that the community must come before the needs of the individual. This concept is anathema to the gung-ho patriot, but it really can’t hurt. If we soften the edges of both cultural concerts and meet in the middle, we get what most other developed nations have already discovered: taking care of the community increases happiness and productivity overall. This means that instead of using the term “welfare” in a negative way, we should realize that it is a really good thing. After all, didn’t someone famous once say that we needed to “…promote the general welfare…” or something? Oh yeah, that was in the preamble to the US constitution. So it really does mesh with the concepts laid out for our society. But why are we fighting about it, then? Oh! Nerd alert! We can also steal a line from our beloved Vulcan.
COMMUNICATION AND MARRIAGE
Did you know that a lot of people in the United States care about marriage? They do. Which is odd, considering that only approximately half of people actually marry in the US. Rates are on the decline, and have been for over a decade. Not only that, but most people support same sex marriage, which recently became law, and even more people are marrying interracially. Interestingly enough, both of these types of marriages were illegal at one point. Why? Well, to preserve the “sanctity” of marriage. Or because of popular opinion of the politicians. You choose. BUT, here is the kicker, 50% of marriages end in divorce. I really don’t understand then. Well, I suppose we don’t find much sanctity in marriage after all. BUT in other countries, they do. And they divorce less often. I have spoken to women and men from a few other countries and the reason for this is that they see marriage as work. They will sit together and discuss their problems, work on their differences, and compromise. Additionally, they do not separate as a knee-jerk reaction because of the negative effects it has on the children and community. True, some of these places have stigma surrounding divorce, but others have freedom of choice when it comes to divorce, they simply prefer to use their communication skills before throwing away their lifetime commitments when possible.
COMING TO GRIPS
Our reality is a bit zealous. Fierce independence at the expense of other people’s lives, and our own, and battle to the death when it comes to defending them, even in other countries. I mean, we have been at war for the entire history of our country’s existence except for a few years. Seriously. We are angry and violent people. No wonder we hate the idea of helping others. Kindness is seen as a weakness, which is ironic considering how many claim that we are a “christian nation” (we are not). The idea of relaxing and just allowing our culture to blend with others seems to scare the pants off people, even if it is only going to help. The fact that the world has changed a bit in the last 200 years or so is irrelevant. The fact that the composition of our population has changed angers these people. In fact, they are so upset they are willing to go to any lengths to drag the country away from progress and into the depths of the past. It isn’t just anger, it is also fear and lust for power.
As an atheist, and an existentialist, I really don’t understand the need to have a stranglehold on others in the name of freedom. I also cannot comprehend how on Earth people think they are losing their freedoms simply by displaying altruistic traits. After all, individual freedom is the one thing it is impossible to have others truly remove. Actually, I do understand it, but I see it differently, meaning my perspective is from an entirely different angle and I really want to share it. Just like some people assume their civil rights are stifled when they wear masks, the rest of us wonder how they live with so much privilege and not see it. Well my friends, everyone needs a paradigm shift every once in a while, so do your best to educate and understand, but stand your ground. Progress is the only way forward, else we stagnate. Stagnation equals death. Some say Math is the Universal language but I say Love is. Be well.