The Value of Individualism
Last week, MSNBC anchor Melissa Harris-Perry made waves with the controversial statement that children don’t belong to their families, but rather belong to the community. Specifically, she stated “…we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”
There’s something about this statement that should be particularly unnerving. It’s not that it hasn’t been made before (former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “It takes a village to raise a child”). Instead, it’s the fact that it went unnoticed by almost all major news networks. Have we as a society really accepted the premise that we can’t take care of ourselves, and that a community, or the government, truly knows best?
President Obama’s re-election proved that this premise may be true. From the time Mitt Romney was the presumptive GOP nominee, until election night, we were told how he and the venture capitol firm, Bain Capital, made their fortune. Because some companies couldn’t be saved, Romney became the villain in the presidential race, the out of touch corporate fiend who couldn’t relate to a hard-working American. Everything from the tax rate Romney paid, to a wild claim that he killed a man’s wife, were considered serious campaign issues by the mainstream media. Instead of focusing on the good that came from Bain Capital, our media and politicians chose to exemplify the times when it didn’t succeed. Romney should have been hailed a hero for saving companies like Staples, but was instead vilified for not being able to save every company.
President Obama has claimed that reliance on the government isn’t the [only] answer – but the numbers speak for themselves. Under his administration, food stamp enrollment has increased 70%. Typically, this is expected during a recession. The difference is that the reliance on these programs declines once the recession ends. In our situation, the number hasn’t trailed off, but it has continued to rise.
So what is it that makes America great? It’s the idea that one person can change the world.
Individualism through necessity and creativity has given us the freedom to become an economic and political superpower. The notion that we are the stewards of our mind, our ideas, and our lives is what make us a prosperous society. Thomas Edison created the incandescent light bulb after trying countless times at making a successful invention. Henry Ford changed the automobile industry by mass producing vehicles and creating an assembly line system. Steve Jobs had a big idea that would revolutionize the world, and since then Apple has grown to become one of the most innovative companies on Earth.
Maybe Melissa Harris-Perry should consider the words of Thomas Jefferson, where he stated “The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits.” There is no legislation or community ideal that can better serve and nurture a child than the love of a family. Our best days are ahead, so long as we respect the right of the individual to succeed.
Aaron Kidd | Marshall University | @akiddwv