Individualism - A Work In Progress

There are two major types of people in the world; those who care what others think, and those who don't. These groups can be called the followers, and the thinkers, respectively. While these two major types can be broken into smaller sets, the smaller sets are simply different views based on the major groups. Those who think, will gravitate toward other thinkers as their major support pillars. Those who follow, will find a thinker, or many in most cases, and follow them no matter what. The followers fail to face reality in many situations, in instead latch on to a reality that is created for them. These two groups coexist, but do not fully coexist in the fact that they do not create things together. Rather, they work independently of each other; each facing life in their own way. It can not be said that there is very little overlap, because the overlap is the spreading of ideas from the thinkers to the followers; and with the aspect of humans as having beliefs, much of them will overlap. The difference is, for the large part, how those beliefs and ideas come into being.

While some may argue that being a follower is not a bad thing, being a follower by definition is a bad thing. It means that you care more about others viewpoints, and what they think, then what you yourself think and believe. Being a follower is a very dangerous position to be in. It allows oneself to be lead by the ‘best' viewpoint that is given to you at any point in time. While this may seem like the best idea, it also means that the follower does not have any foundation for their belief structure, other then what others have come up with and what they have heard. The follower's belief system is one that is pieced together by what they have heard here and there. It is not their own, although they will claim that it is - since it is their combination of thoughts and views from others. The reason why this is not their own, is because it involved no thought, or view, from the follower to create it. They simply took some from here, some from there, and pieced it together to create ‘their own' belief system. The idea that by creating a patchwork quilt of beliefs and thoughts from others makes it their own is as flawed as a thief claiming that everything they have stolen, from everywhere, is theirs. Nothing makes it their own, other than its possible unique combination of patches taken from others. The follower also bases their view of others upon the view that others have already created for the person. They adopt the viewpoints and judgment calls of their friends and others they know instead of their own. Normally, before they even meet or see anyone new, they have a predetermined belief of them. While not always the case, stereotypes are most often continued through the follower. While the follower is not necessarily afraid of the world, they are afraid of themselves. They take the easy way out of things and refuse to face their own thoughts. They only face what is presented to them, and then only do so as little as possible. They lack the drive, the want, to look farther into life and see what may be, and instead, stick with what is. Their beliefs are fallible, not because they are necessarily wrong, but because a follower does not truly understand what their beliefs are. They are not creating, but simply using beliefs. As such, they do not wrap themselves in them, but simply use them as a shield to the world. When proven wrong, the follower will simply change the view that is wrong to reflect a different view that they will adopt – akin to ripping out a patch of the quilt and adding a new one in its place. They fail to argue with themselves about their beliefs, because of the fact that they may prove themselves wrong. The follower lives off of other's ideas and thoughts. They put other's thoughts above their own, and in doing so, lose sight of the best gift humanity has – individualism.

The thinker is everything that a follower is not. The phrase “Live life to the fullest” applies directly to the thinkers. By constantly questioning their surroundings, they are able to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for all that is there. The thinker is one who embraces that ability to think and determine things for themselves – without help from others. They examine life and create their own viewpoints on things. They create their own belief system. This does not mean that their beliefs are not similar or even ‘groundbreaking' in their creation, but they are unique to them and rarely the same as anyone else. The thinker takes threads from others and uses those threads to create their own quilt; not from patches, but from individual threads woven together to form an interlaced belief structure. The follower's belief system is compartmentalized. Each belief is by itself. The thinker's belief system is interlaced. Every belief that they have supports their other beliefs that they have created. When they find something that better reflects their views, the best part of that new belief is added into what they have already developed for themselves. They refuse to completely abolish their old belief, but instead make it closer to what they are looking for. Their belief system is always in question, but mainly from themselves. They are not happy with what they have created and are always looking to improve it. They believe in their values to the extent that they are part of them. They are not a shield for the world, but rather a presentation of the person to the world. Their beliefs reflect themselves, since they are theirs and theirs alone. This is not true for just their belief structure, but for everything that the thinker is involved in. They are innovators in very sense of the word. They not only create new things, but are constantly in the search for new and innovative beliefs, ideas, and material things. The thinker does not care what others think; because they believe in themselves more then they believe in others. What others think is not immaterial, but rather just does not matter. They are more then willing to engage others in discussion, but they refuse to sacrifice their beliefs to the whims of others. The thinker is what individualism should be.

Individualism is the ability to act independently and without caring what others think. Those who practice individualism are often called selfish and arrogant, however they are who they are and understand that they will not be able to appease the masses, so instead work being themselves. The thought of being independent in life is not one that should be scary, but rather the thought of following others for the rest of ones life should be. Without individualism, a person ceases to be themselves, and instead becomes one of the masses. Only by being oneself can one truly be a part of society. When society becomes simply parts of previously thought of beliefs, it becomes stagnate. When the majority of society becomes followers, democracy does not exist. Instead, it becomes a war of whatever faction has the most followers on the issues that people judge as ‘the most important' for them. Democracy is the ability for people to choose their leaders and belief system. However, it only truly works when it is the compromise of the belief system of the whole. When all of those beliefs are the same, it is closer to a socialist government where the highest up the hierarchy makes the beliefs for the masses. The only difference is instead of one person making the belief structure for the masses; the one belief structure with the most followers rules the masses.

-Jason Reck
*This work is completely orginial, although based on a compliation of works. ©2005 All Rights Reserved

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