Monday, May 5, 2008

Individualism or Individuality?

One of the difficulties in discussing individualism is that at its heart, it affirms and negates. On one hand affirms our created worth. On the other, it separates us from everything else. For someone to say that they have a personal relationship with Jesus can be affirmed as a good thing. However we cannot slip from the communal aspect of that claim. Christ cannot be had apart from his body. We must affirm both the corporate and the individual. To swing back with the pendulum into a pure communitarian perspective would diminish the created individuality of all people. Perhaps there needs to be a reclamation or clarification of terms. If individualism is about self realization and self-re-creation perhaps a better understanding of individuality versus individualism would be in order. Perhaps people are afraid of being swallowed by the corporation – to become a number. Rather than being born as individuals, we are born with individuality. We are uniquely created beings who seek to cultivate those particulars for a greater good beyond oneself. Paul’s conception of the body speaks of individuality not individualism. If all were a hand where would the sense of smell be? What good is the hand severed from the body? Is it still even a hand without its identity to a larger context.