Lost Quote: “Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.” Malcolm Muggeridge
Franklin, NC -- (ReleaseWire) --06/14/2011 --Rugged Individualism. The term is, for Americans almost patriotic, certainly romantic. We see images of John Wayne, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Harriet Tubman, Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and other American heroes. A “Time Magazine” essay by Roger Rosenblatt somewhat sarcastically stated that: “if you would win over a crowd of Americans, use the term rugged individualism; they will salute it like the flag.” We plead guilty.
Is individualism dead? Individualism places emphasis on independence and assuming responsibility for actions. Individualism is linked with the “rugged individuals” who developed the West as our nation expanded. We associate the cowboy culture of self reliance and initiative with individualism. Who hasn’t dealt with the question of whether they should go along with the crowd or object to something they consider unconscionable?
Our constitutional legacy of individualism dates back to the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention of 1787. The delegates, charged with amending the Articles of Confederation, decided instead to draw up a new U. S. Constitution. Certain they would be hailed as heroes, they returned home. Instead, citizens were outraged, furious because the delegates had forgotten about individual rights. Realizing the Constitution, as it stood, would never be ratified; they promised to add a Bill of Rights that included the individual rights of freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and press, religious freedom, rights to petition government, jury trial and the right to bear arms and others. Individualism had prevailed!
Individualism means the right to stand up to power and for freedom. Individualism means that a single person can make a difference. Individualism means we can petition government. It means the right to go into business and engage in commerce. It also means individuals have the right to be protected from crime in their communities and the right to a quality education.
WFSC through “Citizens Making a Difference” hosted by Gordon goes out to seven counties and demonstrates the important things citizens do to create a great community. Volunteerism stands out each week, as many individuals work together.
Is it time for a rebirth of individualism in the United States? Letting freedom ring does not mean giving up freedoms the citizens demanding a Bill of Rights fought to preserve. It is self initiative, energized through free enterprise that sets our nation apart. We need leaders that energize this spirit and do not fear protest, when government or organizations veer off the path
Most importantly, individualism and cooperation are not opposites. Novelist and political philosopher Ayn Rand asserts: “An individualist is a man who recognizes the inalienable individual rights of man-his own and those of others.”
In the Middle East people are waking up to the proposition that freedom is more than the right to agree; it is also the right to disagree. As the people of the world struggle to replace their bonds with individual rights, let us keep our spirit of individualism alive at home.
Gordon Mercer is international president of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and was recently honored by being named professor emeritus at Western Carolina University. Marcia Mercer is a writer and columnist and her children’s book on diversity, “When I Woke Up the World Was Yellow,” has just been published by Mirror Publishing in Wisconsin