Losing Individualism

Don H. Morris
Abilene, Texas

(Ed Note: The following article is taken from the A.C.C. publication HORIZONS, edited by Bro. Morris, president of A.C.C. We commend it to our readers.)

The individual is the most powerful idea in our Western society.

On the importance of each man and his inherent rights our government has been built.

The Declaration of Independence states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."

The Declaration further asserts that governments derive their just powers from "the consent of the governed." It is an eternal principle that the individual gives power to the government rather than that government gives rights to the individual.

The Christian religion is built on the idea of the importance of the individual and the love which God has for each personality.

Jesus said, "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" And He also declared, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."

We have a right to be alarmed, therefore, when it appears in our society that the position of the individual has been weakened. We ask, "Is our nation gradually losing its genius of individualism?"

In the emergence of the mass mind too many of us go along with the crowd. We are becoming too soft-minded in America.

Decline of Self-Enlightenment

There has been a decline of serious reading and intelligent self-enlightenment. This significant loss has been accompanied by a corresponding increase in our exposure to the entertainment craze. We have become so engrossed in our own entertainment and comforts that some are describing our age as the Age of Creature Comforts. It is easier to be spoon-fed in our leisure time than to use time and mental energy for purpose of self-enlightenment.

Aversion to Controversy

A second mark of the soft mind is aversion to controversy. We prefer to be soothed rather than challenged, pleased rather than provoked, and gratified rather than stimulated. Some go to great lengths to avoid argument and emotional tensions. This is simply the reaction of soft-minded people who have lost, or soon will lose, their personal convictions. Tranquilizers and alcohol represent common forms of evasion.

This tendency to avoid conflicts and controversy is widespread. Many people will frankly tell you, for example, we do not discuss religion or politics in our home." Yet Christianity itself was born in controversy and has flourished during periods of tremendous opposition. And our Republic was born in revolution and controversy. The enlightened mind does not shun a discussion of controversial issues. Soft minds do.

The Paternal View of Government

A third deadly symptom of the soft mind is the tendency to look on the government as the Great White Father and provider extraordinary. This concept of government, when extended to its ultimate form becomes Socialism and Communism, in which the state and not the individual is the chief unit of society. Because men cannot or will not provide for their own, the government steps in; because men cannot or will not plan for their own future, the government steps in. And on and on goes the vicious cycle that exalts the obligation of the state to the individual and minimizes the individual's self-reliance and responsibility to enrich society with his own efforts. This is the paternal view of government held by many today.

This view affects our attitude toward financial matters-all the way from the home to the national government. It is simpler to shift the problem to the government or, by means of national debt, to our children and grand-children.

Many of us call for more public works to create more jobs, more and better highways, more and better schools, better paid teachers, and more and more federal aid of all kinds. Strangely, we react adversely to the suggestion that we should pay for these programs through higher taxes. Rather than curtail government activities to our ability to pay we clamor for more and more and often disregard the problem of financing altogether. The question of who is going to pay is left to the next generation.

Genuine Conviction

If the soft mind contributes to the decline of the individual, the tough mind should contribute to restoring the individual to his rightful dignity.

Self-enlightenment is serious business. Being informed, we will have definite personal convictions, and we must not be afraid to express them. Enlightened individuals are the responsible citizens and the kind of leaders our government so direly needs in the years ahead. People of genuine conviction will help preserve our heritage of individualism.

Charles Spurgeon stated the case for the individual when he declared: "The greatest works are done by the ones. . . It is the units, the single individuals, that are the power and the might."

If we are to be a strong people, we must rely upon the individual-the individual with a strong mind.

Truth Magazine IV:11, pp. 14-15
August 1960