It’s always been a bit odd whenever I hear a conservative Christian (of which I am one) leader (of which I am not) say one or more of the following: I am going to do what’s right regardless of what the culture thinks; or, I am not going to let culture direct my opinions; or, I will speak my mind and not let the politically correct movement frighten me. The reason I find it odd is because these are often the same individuals who adamantly speak out against the idea of “individualism.” The mindset from which those things are said, however, is quite individualistic. As C.Jay recently pointed out, the following quotation by Jonathan Edwards is profoundly and gloriously individualistic:
Resolution One: I will live for God.
Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.”
Individualism is the idea that individuals, not collectives or groups, are the morally responsible object in society and therefore have the obligation –and the right– to make their own decisions and to do what is ethical, regardless of what the masses do. American Christians often express severe hesitancy to the idea of individualism and yet, the heroes of Christian history almost always stood out above the crowd by doing something different than the status quo, for standing up for their convictions, and literally doing what thousands of people thought should not be done.
In a world beset by all kinds of absurdities and cultural degradations, we need people who dissent and walk alone– visibly and shockingly standing up for principle, for reality. In a social context suffering under the weight of political correctness and thought-policing, we need individuals who say: “no, I will think what I want and not find guilt in being confident about what I believe.” In a political context suffering under the weight of democratic authoritarianism, we need individuals who are unashamed of private property rights and defending what is their own. In an economic context suffering under the weight of centralism and collectivism, we need individuals who are not ashamed of making a profit and upsetting the present government-managed framework.
The herd is a menace. The masses are stuffed full of ignorance and destructive mindsets. We need more dissenters, not less. We need more rugged individualists, not follow-the-crowd collectivists. We need more who are willing to stand alone, to speak truth to the cultural powers, who don’t put stock in the professional opinionators and thought controllers.