Individual vs Community: Can Individuality be Retained?

Can you still retain individualism in a community?


“Is the world then so narrow?”




If you were to ask a group of teenagers this question, the majority would respond with a witty pretentious attitude, “Yeah, I don’t care what people think about me! I am who I am!” In reality there is micro percentage of teenagers, adults included, which can state it boldly and mean it. I am willingly to admit it, I have repeatedly spoken of how I couldn’t be bothered If I was liked or not. Without even knowing it, we have been accustomed to believe we have to fit into certain moral standards in society. We see it everywhere, from our social media, our communities, even in our literature. We are programmed to judge others who do not look like us. From the clothes we wear, where we reside, the school we attend, our grades, our background culture. I believe we all do it or have done it at some point and that’s okay. It’s okay to admit something that comes natural, but not so easy to stop from making pre-judged theories.

I tend to look at passerby’s shopping and try to form their lives. It usually becomes a task as complex as solving a puzzle. What will they do when they get home? What’s their schedule? What is there family like? I am not looking for approval within others, but curiosity always leads me to believe that there is much more than people let on in a community. There has to be a sense of individualism, right? We can’t all have the same stories. In a short essay “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez , Rodriguez explains what he  experienced and went through during his childhood. He was always pinned against the community of where he lived because he was  afraid people judged him because he did not belong racially. His parents were both Mexican immigrants and weren’t given many opportunities or experiences  to blend into the culture first-hand. Rodriquez always felt like an outsider in America because of where he came from and how different he acted. He was embarrassed by how his parents spoke English: broken and unclear. Even when he was a boy, he still felt the need to fit in with the rest of his surroundings. We live in a cultural world where diversity plays a big impact in our community. The truth is that this brings a racial divide, and we see examples all the time in the media. This is where Community breaks up into into divided sub-topics.  There are always raw situations with the law and whether we still judge based on color of skin and ethical background. How are we able to express who we are if we are trying to conform with what is acceptable?

In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, Hester is shunned by her community for committing adultery  (later revealed to be Dimmesdale). The community was so quick to denounce her  and shut her out from their world. Nathanial Hawthorne author of the Scarlet Letter demonstrates how a community is willing to shut the individual out when they commit an act or express outrageous  thoughts that are foreign to the community. The few exceptions of the community are the Hester Prynne’s  of the world. For the first few years she was shown as an outcast, Hester was shameful of the sin she committed. She spoke of how her parents gave her love and how she had spoiled it. In chapter five of the novel Hester is released from prison and contemplates on how she will handle her new life away from the town. As the years go on Hester is willing to stand for individuality “God gave her into my keeping.” She was never expressing her thoughts towards anyone one but herself. When she was able to admit she no longer held a place of belonging of community, Hester became free to express her own emotions. Many of the few people  who have kept  individual thoughts have at some point thought of conforming to a community, but have chosen to admit that they are different. They have struck on the idea that retaining your individualism can eventually change the community. After many years, The townspeople begin to accept Hester slowly back into the community and in the end of the novel they see her as a sort of counselor.

Yes, you can retain individualism, but at some point it is affected by the community. I am not attacking the community, because a community is formed by individual thoughts and can be a very positive thing. It takes a strong individual different from the rest, to affect a community and progress their thoughts through time. Take John Lennon in the 1970’s as an example. Lennon was able to create a revolution A strong change and   community was formed by one man’s thoughts. He influenced the minds of many young individuals and enlightened many of the masses. These are the people that continue to advance our individualism and expand our ways of intellectual thinking.



One thought on “Individual vs Community: Can Individuality be Retained?

  1. It is very interesting that you mentioned how we all want to claim to be individual but at the end of the day all we want is to be a part of a community. People really do judge an individual not part of a community, in the Scarlet Letter Hester is looked at by the towns people who try to figure out Hester, who is do different from them. I also find it refreshing that you think it is okay to make assumptions of people since it is the natural thing humans do.

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