There is no way to break this to you gently. Our country is sick with individualism. A little bit doesn’t cause a problem but when it becomes predominant, militant even, then it is a mental illness. The American cultural ethos of go-it-alone and pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps is a delusion that leads to a psychosis in which freedom and liberty becomes all about the individual.
When we are healthy, we know that nobody makes it on their own. We inherit (not make) the chromosomes within our cells, and they carry the DNA that makes us who we are. From the parents that raised us, and the parents that raised them, and all the family members that contributed to raising all those around us, to the community that influenced and taught us — countless people going back generations and generations, to ghostly figures from our childhood that we didn’t even recognize were influencing our lives — made us who we are.
If we grew up in a house that our parents owned (or paid a mortgage for), then we are beneficiaries of something many other people never had. If we were taught to expect that we could do anything when we grew up, and that the sky was the limit — no matter what our gender, race, ethnicity, creed, or ability — then we were the beneficiaries of something many people never had. Heck, if we were taught anything by caring adults in our lives, then clearly, we are not self-made. Every one of us is where we are now, in part, because of people before and around us, and the opportunities they were given, or prevented from gaining.
Individualism runs through the veins of modern secularism and capitalism, and at higher levels becomes toxic. According to the Hofstede Scale that measures the dimensions of global cultures, “Individualism is the extent to which people feel independent, as opposed to being interdependent as members of larger wholes.” In other words, it is a continuum from completely individualistic to thoroughly communalistic. The United States scores 91 on the individualistic end of the scale in contrast to Guatemala that scores 6. Germany comes in at a more moderate 67.
The Cleveland Clinic defines Delusional Disorder as “a type of serious mental illness — called a ‘psychosis’— in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. The main feature of this disorder is the presence of delusions, which are unshakable beliefs in something untrue.”
Unshakable beliefs in something untrue? How many slogans against mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, vaccinations, and the Big Lie exhibit unshakable beliefs in something untrue? At the heart of them all is a rapacious individualistic mantra that freedom and liberty equal the unhindered ability to “do what I want to do.” Period. Such an individualistic understanding is a temper tantrum, at best, not freedom and liberty.
Even people living in a bunker, making their own ammo, and growing their own food owe a host of others who came before them, and they are absolutely dependent upon lifestyle decisions other people make all around them. Freedom and liberty have boundaries that are shaped by the needs and safety of other people who share our space, neighborhood, nation, and planet. Anything else is a delusion.