We live in a society where we operate through groups. In our families we indentify ourselves as individuals. Communities or other groups in the society are made up of individual members. It should be noted that without individuals, society would not be in existence. On the same note, it is people who enact laws that govern behavior and mode of conduct in society.
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Traditions that people follow nowadays were not instituted by any group, but rather by individuals who decided to lay down procedures that would govern every other person in society. Moreover, the society as a whole is identified using a given language, because individuals in the society decide to use the language in their day-to-day activities. This is contrary to the belief held by others that society’s needs are more important than individual needs.
Though through traditions, customs and various types of education people have been made to believe that society matters come first before individual matters, the opposite is true. Inherently, human beings will want to focus on the purpose of their lives and not that of society or a certain group. Even when people belong to various groups in the society, individual focus takes center stage. The continuous search by human beings to define themselves will continue to rule what people do and how they conduct their activities.
Different societal groups start and collapse, people can move from one location to another and adapt to different traditions and customs, states come and go but individuals remain. People will still demand for freedom and privacy to carry out their life in their own best way possible, without being restricted by society. Therefore, it is wrong to argue that society will at any instance come first before individuals.
By trying to satisfy individual needs, people indirectly fulfill the needs of the society as a whole, since society and other communal groups are just but a collection of individuals.
These individuals have to be taken care of first, before the whole group is looked into. There is no person who will want to extend a helping hand to the society before satisfying his or her own needs. From the very basic unit of society, the family, individualistic wants come first before any other needs. It has been argued that culture and language modify people in society while taking societal needs first.
However, it can be noted that due to dissatisfaction of some members with their culture, they have exhibited defiant behavior leading to change in the way of doing some things. Families, religious groups or other societal organizations would not have wanted the changes to be accommodated. Incidentally, because individuals have the final say, the changes have been accepted. Therefore, individuals modify language and culture to suit their needs.
It is important to note that individualism is the reality of life, and it did not start with the emergence of capitalism. Since time immemorial, life has neither been about society nor about government, but about individuals who form these groups. The main motive that has driven progress and development in human society is the urge of people to advance their personal needs. Man has been known to resist any ideologies or institutions which hinder in any way the endeavors of personal development.
As a matter of fact, man’s continuous opposition towards institutions brought about by various states has led to civilization. Similarly, resistance to various modes of governance has resulted from the shear perception that they are oppressive to individuals or groups of individuals. This shows that individuals have a very crucial role than the society in human life.
Notably, before the emergence of societal groups, man still lived and conducted life in a more or less organized way. Some groups which have emerged in human society in the name of regulating human behavior and enhancing societal interests are actually doing the opposite.
Governments were introduced when the wealthy people in the society, masquerading as saviors, wanted to rule the poor and protect their status quo. The idea of free market operation is another example of how individualistic interests are being advanced. People will want to have the opportunity to sell more or buy more if they have the ability. They will care less about the group in which they belong or the state from which they come.
It is not peculiar to get people who come from a specific community or ethnic background, identifying themselves with others from different communities because they have common individual interests. Leaders claim to represent the public but when an opportunity of advancing their own interests comes, they jump and take advantage of it at the expense of the public.
In the society, progress of the whole community is a summation of total individual progress of all members. Consequently, it is the individual in a group who matters and not the group per se. In this regard, it is fundamentally wrong for people to argue that individuals will play second fiddle in human society.