Individualism is under attack
This isn’t about whether getting vaccinated is the right choice, or the wrong one. After all, in the last 10 years, less than half of adults in the U.S. received a flu shot, even though the CDC estimates that an average of 36,000 people died of the flu each year over the past decade (the worst recent flu season was 2017-2018 when 61,000 people died from the flu).
Now, for some of you, you believe those who choose not to get the flu vaccine each year are exercising their individual freedom and supporting the notion that each person has a right to “do their own thing” in the spirit of “liberty and justice for all.”
For many others, however, they feel those who choose not to be vaccinated each year are delusional and selfish, and that they are unconcerned about other people getting sick and dying.
With respect to the Coronavirus, though, President Biden put it this way last week: “The rule is now simple: Get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do. The choice is yours.”
But for the 30% of Americans who say they do not intend on getting vaccinated against the Wuhan Flu, is there a really choice for them under such so-called rules? And it doesn’t take a mind-reader to figure out that Biden thinks anyone choosing not to be vaccinated must be delusional and selfish.
Wait, I thought Biden said during his inauguration speech that his whole soul was into uniting this country. I guess 30% of the country isn’t all that important to unite.
But of all the manipulative, rotten and condescending ways to convince you (to try to convince you) that you ought to be vaccinated, this new Biden “rule” really exposes the core struggle that this country is in.
It’s not maskers versus non-maskers, or vaxxers versus anti-vaxxers. It’s not those who want to still socially distance versus those who don’t, or black versus white. Not straight versus gay. Not even rich versus poor.
What Biden’s new “rule” reveals is that the struggle for the heart of this country – what’s really at stake – is conflict between individualism and collectivism. The choice to choose whether to be vaccinated because it’s what’s best for you, individually, or for the collective.
You see, individualism is based on the tenets of freedom and self-reliance. It’s baked into the core of American culture. It doesn’t mean that we never should get help from others or lend others a helping hand.
It does promote the idea that the individual has the ability to consider what is in his or her own best interests and judge for themselves and decide whether the conclusions of the group will become their own, based upon their own analysis. With individualism, there is no “collective brain” that an individual can rely on to tell him or her what actions are best for his or her own life.
As a former slave Frederick Douglass explains, “I am not by nature bound to you, or you to me. Nature does not make your existence depend upon me, or mine to depend upon yours. I cannot walk upon your legs, or you upon mine. I cannot breathe for you, or you for me; I must breathe for myself, and you for yourself. We are distinct persons, and are each equally provided with faculties necessary to our individual existence.”
Collectivism, however, promotes the idea that individuals are like honeybees in a beehive, without minds of their own or the freedom to disagree. And if you happen to act in any way contrary to the “hive,” you will be attacked by the other bees as a threat, and if you leave the “hive,” you will be unable to support yourself.
The “welfare of the group” is more important than the individual in collectivism. Adolf Hitler once explained this in a speech, saying that above all “the unity of a nation’s spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and the will of an individual.”
You see, to collectivists, it’s not only morally proper for an individual to “give back” to society or to the government, but that society, the government, etc. has the right to take what it judges it needs from you. When Hillary Clinton said, “It takes a village to raise a child,” or Barack Obama said, “You didn’t build that,” this was the point they were making.
Of course, some will say, “What’s wrong with giving back or helping others? Isn’t that what we are called to do as Christians?” Yes, absolutely. And that’s the point.
We are created in the image and likeness of God, with the ability to think freely and act on our own free will. We are responsible before God as an individual. As it says in Romans 2:6, “He will render to each one according to his works.” Even Jesus knew following Him would offend the crowd (and He said so several times).
Collectivism is dangerous. History shows the most collectivist countries have also been the worst for their citizens – from the USSR to Cuba to Nazi Germany. All relied heavily on collectivism to justify their regimes, which were mired in stagnation and misery.
Individualism leads to prosperity and happiness.
Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at email@example.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.