Humanity is composed of individuals.
If you were born into a small tribe, your life roles would follow predictable paths. Since you were born during the late industrial age, your life path was selected by circumstances of birth and you were trained to fit within it. Like an assembly line your life has been hacked into small functions; one life at home, a separate and defined life at play, and another autonomous piece of life at work or school.
Pervasive technologies now allow us a more coherent, integrated, and authentic self. Our kids and grand kids have a chance to grow up whole in a way we were never allowed to imagine.
While the fundamental unit of society is the individual, our relationships help us to define ourselves. Increasingly these relationships are based on love, reputation, and respect rather than on some extended hierarchy.
If we are to find meaning in our own lives we must first discover ourselves and then determine how we want to relate to others. Instead of wearing incompatible social facades at work, play, and home we can give ourselves permission to act as we feel appropriate wherever we find ourselves.
The gain for the individual is choice.
We do not have to be interchangeable parts of an impersonal social machine. We can communicate with anyone willing to communicate with us, at any level. The old form is dead -- a few scared and pompous individuals making decisions beyond their competence for everyone else. Dilbert will be freed.
"An individual's risks and rewards from creative and natural enterprise are greater, and of far more value to society, than any illusions of security that enslave human cogs in a social machine." - Allan Wallace
Empower yourself. For yourself, for those you love and respect - and then let the results benefit society. As an individual it is your right to choose where, how, and when to expend your efforts. The rewards have seldom been higher for autonomy, and the costs are steadily decreasing.
"Liberty consists in doing what one desires." - John Stuart Mill
Rigid structures and bureaucracies are anti-liberty and inherently unjust. Democracy is not liberty but a vain attempt to give social voice to the disenfranchised. A self important Shepard has no effect on the wolves by declaring them to be vegetarians, while three wolves and a sheep voting on lunch has a predictable outcome.
What is important is what you decide for yourself, as an individual.
"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." - Voltaire
Freedom is messy. The results of thinking and doing what you feel is best are unpredictable and can't be blamed on others. The results of living are the same for all of us; we will make mistakes and we will die. The difference in how we live is determined by our decision to take the safe route of being part of a stagnant society and told what to do, or being an individual and determining how we wish to live.
While most world leaders talk in sweeping terms of how they want to advance society; their means always seem to involve controlling the individual. They seem to be saying "We love humanity - it's people we hate."
- "Those who take the most from the table, teach contentment. Those for whom the taxes are destined, demand sacrifice. Those who eat their fill, speak to the hungry, of wonderful times to come. Those who lead the country into the abyss, call ruling difficult, for ordinary folk." - Bertolt Brecht
- "Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?" - Thomas Jefferson
Recent history (in centuries) has had central governments using educational marketing to create indoctrinated citizens. Education is finally escaping total government controls as new media are opening new learning channels. The citizen/government relationship is shifting toward monitored reciprocal duties, balance, and benefits weighed against costs.
Those that tell us the village is most important are usually village leaders that want the benefits of power over others. Instead of letting them decide our contributions, we can give as little or as much as we believe is justified. The time is coming when you can pick your government a la carte.
Most villages have a plaque on a small house proclaiming that a hero of some sort was born there. That is one thing they feel sets them apart, that is what put their village on the map. Everyone doing the expected does not create a stir, it is the individual who excels that defines humanity.
Villages that offer the greatest opportunities with stability will attract more of those singular heroes. The life well lived can be a wonderful adventure; if we are willing to take responsibility for our own actions, and then act.
"Decide now -- is your next action to be determined by what you want to do, or by what you want to accomplish?" - Allan Wallace