Individualism, a hallmark of our society, is now our own worst enemy

This essay eventually gets around to our need to wear face masks during the pandemic.

A little bit of background. Or, rather, a lot of background.

In his introduction to Making America: The Society & Culture of the United States, the book’s editor, Luther S. Luedtke offers on pages 19 and 20 a list of what he calls “America’s traditional core values.”

Some of the collectivism that I had seen in action

During the three months of my Peace Corps training, I spent most of the time living with a family in the town of Kaédi. But I also spent a few weeks in the capital, where I stayed with another family. It was with the Nouakchott host family where I witnessed a gathering of women who comprised a group called el kiiss, an Arabization of the French for la caisse (literally, cashier, as in being the holder of a bank of money).

a Mauritanian family seated around the communal meal platter

So, what’s wrong with individualism?

While I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with individualism per se, I most definitely see that there are concerns with the way it is currently playing out in the United States during the coronavirus pandemic. People’s sense of individualism is causing great harm, as witnessed by the many videos that have been posted on the Internet, documenting the masses of people who are refusing to wear masks, claiming that their “personal rights,” their “personal freedoms,” their personal wishes are of greater importance than the health and welfare of the people around them.

Retired teacher (San Francisco, 1969–2003); Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Mauritania, 2003–2005); public speaker, artist, writer, world citizen & traveler

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