In the news today there’s a big sensation hitting the social media and news sites. It’s all about a young girl named Greta Thunberg. She’s been addressing environmental related issues and recently spoke at the United Nations. Now I’m not addressing her political views. Instead I want to talk about two scenarios that highlight collectivism and individuality.
There’s a distinct controversy surrounding her. Regardless of one’s view on climate change, there’s a knee jerk reaction on the part of some to assume she’s being puppeted by some hidden force. To me it seems that more than her viewpoint, people are taking contention with her appearance as an individual.
Recently Greta Thunberg released a statement that her actions are her own. Her protest, she contends, is not the drive of her parents, school administration, climate change board or any other entities. She is stating her desire is to come forward as an individual who believes in scientific research pointing to a problem.
I’m not really concerned with her foundational beliefs, what I find interesting as that she does appear to be an individual. There is no evidence that another force is driving her. If that evidence comes to light, well it’s a different story. For now, we have nothing but the conjecture of some naysayers.
I have found that people who instantly gravitate to a collective mind-think, tend to see individuals (like Greta) as threats. Irregardless of what Greta believes in, they will target someone speaking on their own as something strange. Since they can’t believe an individual would rise up, they assume she’s being manipulated by a hidden collective.
This is because, those of collective membership can not see clearly. Individualism is lost on them. It’s a foreign concept. Normally they’d pay her no mind, but for one reason or another she has gotten into the spot light.
This has put a seeming individual on everyone’s TV, social media feed, etc. It’s an offensive thing for those who are bent on being in a collective. Sure, there are individuals who may feel she’s wrong on her environmental issues, but those who are addressing her are not so much condemning her claims, rather they are raising suspicions of some hidden agenda that must be present. That’s what I’m addressing.
To give another example, a more personal one, I was outside on a break with several coworkers the other day. One coworker started talking about his wife who was suing for wrongful termination from a previous employer. As it turns out she won.
The case was about her employer terminating her after she became pregnant. Violating state and federal law, they didn’t hold her job open. It was an easy win.
While this fellow told the story about his wife, another employee had a look of anger the entire time this was discussed. I could feel his frustration. He threw out a negative comment here or there, as to somehow topple this lawsuit (which was already settled.)
When I think back to this person, I realize he always sides with large collectives, against individuals. Every single time a situation appears that pits an individual against government, corporations, etc. he sides with the collective.
This coworker is a prime example of a collective. He belongs to a very strict religion that adhere’s to collective group thought.
This has come up in other discussions where he doesn’t like seeing workers take vacation time, or a leave of absence over a death in the family. He watches when people arrive and when they leave and no, he’s not a manager. He’s a hard worker. He’s sacrificed his life for this company. Every waking hour he pours it into the company, and his expectation is that others will as well.
Once, we had a talk and he told me something odd. He felt that the worker owes everything to the company as it is their source of “survival.” This, to him, meant that the worker shouldn’t complain, work harder and sacrifice much (including family.)
This is how an collectivist thinks and certainly there are degrees of collectivism. Such people view a collective as the source of all that is rich and valuable (their survival.) There is no individuality, no human being or personal quest to achieve.
Such people can not understand it when an individual appears. It’s confusing. They might not even be upset over a person’s point of view, what really irks such a person is seeing an individual identity emerge.
This is the pressure we go through on different levels, to suppress our individual nature.
The Old Friend
In ’99 I met someone who was a real oddball. I worked with him for nearly 8 years. In that time I noticed he had an odd view of life. He was a complainer, a whiner, a constant victim. He also hated individuals.
Whenever he saw someone, on their own, win something… it irked him. Seeing individuals fail brought out a positive aspect to his personality. In general though, he “hated people” (his words.)
Watching this fellow evolve over time, I’ve come to notice that he hasn’t changed much. I have discovered he is a collectivist as well. He unites his identity with various large groups. Working at a BIG entertainment company, gave him an identity. Being part of a religious community gave him an identity…
Once again, when such a person see’s someone act as an individual and WIN (winning being a key point here), he looses his shit. He gets frustrated, angry, bitter or downright mean.
This is a real pattern that I’m noticing in people. It’s not about the opinions, views, politics, as much as it’s about an individual vs. a collective. Clear evidence that unlike what some believe, there is a significant difference between the left hand path and the right hand path.
One episode of MASH (the old TV sitcom) that I remember, is a scene with the religious jerk Frank Burns talking to Hawkeye about a gay serviceman. Hawkeye snaps at Frank, “what about individuality Frank?”
Frank says the comical line, “Individuality is fine, as long as we all do it together.”
But that’s just it… this joke is on us. Our society, parents, religious institutions, corporations and the like have been pushing this agenda for ages.
One collective may over take another… the wasteful corporation, might be overtaken by environmental change collectives. One side vs. another… these collectives are still that, collectives and there may be individuals expressing their own nature here and there on either side… but they are often suppressed out of fear.