i was talking with some young people about what it might mean to choose community.
i suggested a distinction could be drawn between individualism and individuality. Richard Rohr, in one of his presentations, helped me to recognise the way that Christian Faith encourages and celebrates individuality. But it never encourages individualism.
I think that individualism is encouraged by comparison. When we make negative comparisons we are setting ourselves up in competition with others. We make value judgements of others and of ourselves.
We are all unique. Individuality can be celebrated, when each person’s uniqueness is valued, their strenghts are appreciated and affirmed, and their weakensses supported by the strengths of othes.
Individualism is - exactly as it name suggests - committed to a future of separation. Comparing and Competition - if it succeeds - will set us apart from the crowd… But when individuality is celebrated, our sense of connectedness with others is strenghtened. Who does the celebrating? Individuality is celebrated in community! We are not drifting apart, but rather forging strong bonds with others. Bonds of helpfullness and reliance on others.
Who does the comparing? I do. You do. and the result is a growing separation.
Who does the celebrating? We do… and we find ourselves building an affirming, healing community.