It’s nyquil and gin time, kiddos. So this might not make sense, but it’s honest, and that’s gotta count for something, right? …Right?
There was a time when it was a given that the community you lived in would support you. If your house burned down, they would help you rebuild. If your wife was sick, they would help take care of your kids and bring food. If you didn’t have enough help, they would chip in to make sure you were able to bring in the harvest or take care of the animals or whatever. There was, quite simply, an implicit understanding that the success and health of the community was directly related to the success and health of the individuals that comprised it.
It’s not rocket science.
Except we’ve lost that ideology, traded it in to worship the individual and only the individual, and as a result, we lose. We lose the budding scientist who can’t afford college. We lose the brilliant artist who can’t devote time to paint or write or create because they have to work so much just to live. We lose love and compassion and empathy and insight and all that remains for too many is bare survival.
But still, this mindset remains. Collectively, we look down on those who ask for help — “I did it myself, why can’t they?”
So many variables add up to rock bottom, and until you’re there, you have no right to judge. Maybe the paychecks that month just didn’t line up. Maybe the car broke down and the dog got sick and your job just didn’t have the hours and you couldn’t catch up. Maybe you have an addiction. Maybe a strange affliction landed you in the hospital and you didn’t have friends or family or a supportive spouse. Maybe, sure, you misspent or misjudged.
Maybe it doesn’t actually matter. We don’t often count our luck as luck when we’re in the shit, but we’re all too quick to point out other peoples’ when they’re in it.
And so we cling to this idea that individuals are solely responsible for their fates, and we glory in their successes and take private glee in their failures, measuring ourselves against impossible yardsticks and gifting ourselves with excuses and reasons and understanding that we rarely, if ever, bestow upon the strangers that beg for change or use public assistance or ask for help in any way.
And has this made the world a better place? Has this worship of the individual raised us up, lifted us as a society, granted us deeper insight or creativity or knowledge? I’d argue that largely, the opposite has happened.