The Second Mountain – David Brooks

The Argument Against Hyper-Individualism

People today have become hyper-individualist, partly stemming from the counterculture movement of the 60s revolting against the stifling 50s, and partly due to our myths as a society in America. People are desperate to express their individuality. 

Hyper-individualism – the journey of life is an individual journey. Individual happiness, authenticity, self-actualization, and self-sufficiency are the goals. What can I do to make myself happy? 

Flip side to Hyper-individualism is that it erodes our obligations and responsibilities to others and our kind. Leads to problems of today – isolation, breakdown of family, lack of common purpose, etc. 

It is a system driven by the ego, and ignores the soul and the heart. Connection, fusion, service, and care are ignored. 

Leads to conditional love – I am worthy of love only when I have achieved the status or success the world expects of me. Makes people sensitive to the judgements of others, and causes them to take offense when they feel slighted. 

A person who doe not commit to some loyalty outside of the self leaves no real mark on the world. 

Relationism – need a moral revolution. Put relationships at the center of the equation, not the individual. Measure life by the quality of our relationships, and the service to those relationships. 

Making commitments and staying faithful to those commitments. To a vocation, to a family, to a philosophy, and to a community. This is a way of life. 

Heart – the piece of us that longs for fusion with other.

Soul – the piece of us that gives each person infinite dignity and worth. 

Commitment – a promise made in love. A promise made with no expectation of any type of return. They organize the hours and days of a life. A committed person achieves consistency across time. Character is built through habitual acts of service. 

Society – a system of relationships. The health of society depends on voluntary unselfishness.

Relationships – do not scale. Must be built one at a time. Norms do scale though – you build a norm through repeated action. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *