Expository Writing 101
November 6, 2012
Golden-middle in Individualism
Throughout the past few decades, the concept of individualism has blossomed in many different countries. In previous generations, collectivism was the strict norm- there was really no focus on one’s individual growth and accomplishments- but more and more countries are now realizing and accepting the growing notion of the “individual”. This concept doesn’t only need to be applied to human civilization though. In her essay, “Rewilding North America”, Caroline Fraser discusses the need for a larger system as the foundation for individuality. Although Fraser refers to animals and their need ...view middle of the document...
In today’s society, finding one’s “individualism” is considered a point of self-actualization- the peak of a person’s existence- but it cannot be reached by skipping certain crucial steps. As the mentality of individuals in different societies shifts towards focus on oneself, the collective ideals that were once enough to rule empires can no longer satisfy the needs of new generations. Through this shift though, people are forgetting the basic concept that has guided humanity for thousands of generations- the need for a structural foundation. Just like the Egyptians started building the great pyramids from the bottom-up, the top of the self-actualization pyramid can only be completed when one puts down the huge boulders that give a solid foundation for the climb. Abraham Maslow visually outlines this concept through his “Hierarchy of Needs”. The recent addition of the self-actualization apex is indicative of the social change and becomes a necessary part of a person’s life, but cannot become the focus and consume the individual. The bottom of the pyramid- the basic foundation for its existence- is the largest portion and contains the needs that are both essential to survival and highly collective. Starting from the basic and important needs such as sleep, food and excretion, the pyramid makes its way up to a person’s societal needs that, once attained, carve of niche in society’s structure for that individual.
In the Hierarchy of Needs pyramid, the apex of self-actualization is the hardest to reach because one can only go into that region alone. Like the Egyptian pyramids, the base of one’s needs is comprised of the largest stones but the climb to drag the smaller stones to the top is the hardest to do. In order to traverse the distance between the collective foundation and the region of individuality, one must have certain criteria for “kick-off” that can only be achieved through the proper foundation. Maslow argues that people need to be secure with items such as their health, their family, their accomplishments and basic bodily needs to potentially reach self-actualization, but these items only come with life experience. With the recent social change though, humanity has become too concerned with expressing their individuality and blindly ignore the basic collective needs necessary in society (and the experiences that make them up). Jean Twenge explores this reality in her essay, “An Army of One: Me” as she analyzes carefully collected statistics on the correlation between how children are treated and their subsequent performance and attitude. She marvels over how “many school districts across the country have specific programs designed to increase children’s self-esteem...[but] actually build self-important and narcissism…[because they] encourage children to feel good about themselves for no particular reason” (Twenge 486). Through her analysis of GenMe, Twenge show the importance of maintaining the defined structure of Maslow’s...