1. We were created for Community
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone…’”Genesis 2:18
a) Hyper-individualism is a self-focussed worldview where the self is exalted above society and with that comes a loss of connection.
b) Hyper-individualism is a system of morals, feelings, ideas and practices based on the idea that the journey through life is an individual journey, that the goals of life are individual happiness, authenticity, self-actualization and self-sufficiency. Hyper-individualism puts the same question on everybody’s lips: “What can I do to make myself happy?”
c) H-I rests upon an emancipation story. The heroic self breaks free from the stifling chains of society. The self stands on its own two feet, determines its own destiny, secures its own individual rights. Hyper-individualism defines freedom as absence from restraint.
d) H-I gradually undermines any connection not based on individual choice-the connections to family, neighborhood, culture, nations, and the common good. H-I erodes our obligations and responsibilities to others and our kind.
e) The central problems of our day flow from this erosion: social isolation, distrust, polarization, the breakdown of family, the loss of community, tribalism, rising suicide rates, rising mental health problems, a spiritual crisis caused by a loss of common purpose, the loss-in nation after nation- of any sense of common solidarity that binds people across differences.
f) The core flaw of hyper-individualism is that it leads to a degradation and a pulverization of the human person. Eventually h-i creates isolated, self-interested dissatisfied people who sense that something is missing in their lives but cannot even name what it is.
g) The hyper-individualist finds themselves enmeshed in a network of conditional love. I am worthy of being loved only when I have achieved the status or success the world expects of me. I am worthy of love only when I can offer the other person something in return. I am what the world says about me. H-i obliterates emotional and spiritual security by making everything conditional. It makes people extremely sensitive to the judgment of others and quick to take offense when they feel slighted.
h) H-I directs people toward false and unsatisfying lives. They get to taste a series of experiences which may be pleasant, but which don’t accumulate into anything because they are not serving a larger cause. No amount of achievement gives them the love they crave and they become insecure overachievers.
i) H-I leads to tribalism. People eventually rebel against the isolation and meaninglessness of hyper-individualism by joining a partisan tribe where the tribalist mentality is based on mutual distrust. It’s always us versus them, friend or enemy, destroy or be destroyed. Tribalism is the dark twin of community. The tragic paradox of hyper-individuals is that what began as an ecstatic liberation ends up as a war of tribe against tribe that crushes the individuals it sought to free. Which is where we currently find ourselves politically, spiritually and socially in America.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”Hebrews 10:24-25
Community consists of the following:
- Consideration- “And let us consider…”
- Consequence- you should become a more loving person who does good things
- Consistency- “not neglecting to meet together”
- Cheering- “encouraging one another”
- Clarity- “and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”