The Individual Its Struggle and Purpose Essay

Submitted By Tyoung4
Words: 1593
Pages: 7

From the dawn of our culture we have valued individuality, independence and freedom over almost any other values. After all of the revolutions and wars fought in the name of independence, in the freedom to be an individual, it is shocking to think of how often we forget its meaning and importance. It is much easier to affiliate with a group rather than risk rejection and act on your accord. The film Equilibrium, written and directed by Kurt Wimmer, and several articles from the PACS book highlight the issues concerning this struggle of the self. In order to fully understand the issue one must define individuality, recognize the trials of developing and maintaining individuality, and understand why it is important be an individual. Individuality can be defined as the characteristic of being free from the burdens of others opinions. Unfortunately in such a socially dependent society as our own it is nearly impossible to be completely free of others opinions. We were neglected the luxury of discovering everything for ourselves. Instead we are taught. Our sovereign autonomy is tainted the first time parents say something is wrong and something else is right. The same contamination occurs upon the first days of school as we begin to learn not only what the majority believes is correct, but how to suppress the self in order to advance peacefully in society. We learn established rules and regulations. We learn that someone else has already found out what is right and we learn to accept without questioning. John Stuart Mill comments on the development of such universally accepted dogma in Of Thoughts and Discussion:
It is illustrated in the experience of almost all ethical doctrines and religious creeds. They are all full of meaning and vitality to those who originate them and to the direct disciples of the originators. Their meaning continues to be felt in undiminished strength , and is perhaps brought out into even fuller consciousness, so long as the struggle lasts to give the doctrine or creed an ascendancy over other creeds. At last it either prevails, and becomes the general opinion, or its progress stop... (44)
In this passage Mill explains that if a society can claim something is fact eventually the population learns to accept without questioning. Although it may be impossible to be completely free of the burdens of others opinions, it is possible to at least question those opinions we hear. Individuality is not accepting blindly and having a critical mind that checks others opinions with their own logic. This may seem simple enough but there is another complication when aspiring to achieve true individuality. It is equally important to act on your own beliefs as well as have them. An autonomous being is useless as an observer, but powerful when active. If a revolutionary idea is never shared and given the opportunity to change this world, it may as well have never existed. A true follower of autonomy must share their thoughts and work on making them reality. However this is often very difficult since identity is constantly under assault by societal and social pressures. Even after one achieves a state of intellectual sovereignty the views of others continue to pressure and challenge that autonomy. Humans are social creatures by nature and are often concerned with what others think of them. The desire to be well liked and the fear of being rejected are two forces working against the sense of self. In more extreme societies the fear of rejection can be replaced with the reality of political persecution. Equilibrium’s city of Libria is a perfect example of such a society. In the city state of Libria there is no individuality. The social opinions are all dictated by Father, the epitome of oppression. Those that counter Father’s opinion are hunted and executed. For this reason any “sense offenders” in the city must hide any original or creative thoughts. However one individual decides to act out against the tyranny of