Advanced Placement English Language and Composition
7 April 2014
One’s Responsibility to Oneself
Society: the collection of individuals and community that surrounds an individual. The members of a society can work together to accomplish incredible feats, such as solving community problems and helping those in need. However, while one’s society may often be available for support in trying times, it can still put tremendous pressure on an individual. Phrases like “societal norms” describe the often extremely high standards to which many people are held, such as how they should behave, where they should work, or the manner by which they should live their daily ...view middle of the document...
The fight for inalienable rights during colonial times did not take place because of man’s obligations to society but instead because it was the necessary decision so that American citizens could enjoy their individual lives with freedom from the monarchy. Craig Biddle argued in his piece “Individualism vs. Collectivism: Our Future, Our Choice” that “Individualism is the idea that the individual’s life belongs to him and that he has an inalienable right to live it as he sees fit, to act on his own judgment, to keep and use the product of his effort, and to pursue the values of his choosing.” He goes on to state that this ideal was set forth by the country’s founders through the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution so that “the individual’s rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness were to be recognized and protected,” (Biddle). The concept of owing something to one’s society goes against the fundamentals that have been present since the work of the nation’s founders. After the United States was officially formed and independent from Britain, individualism yielded other successes as well. As Richard Koch of The Huffington Post said,
The practical result of individualism has been the explosion of wealth that the world has seen since the eighteenth century. Before then, the great majority of people suffered malnutrition and disease, when they did not actually starve to death. Individualism has fuelled invention, the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, and all the enterprise that has led to cheap necessities and fairly cheap luxuries. (Koch)
The idea of working hard and embracing one’s personal ideas and abilities has allowed the innovators of the world to accomplish incredible feats. When one analyzes society and individualism throughout history, it becomes evident that recognizing one’s own capabilities and being held responsible to oneself has truly benefited this country.
In addition to throughout history, individualism and the authentic hard work of people in modern times have shown that mankind does not owe something to society. An individual’s hard work, passion, and dedication in all that he does allow him to earn his own personal success. If man only works to benefit others, he will not enjoy the success he has built while those who choose not to work hard may be able to benefit. Author and theologian Robert M. Price argued that the unethical and unmotivated members of society will “happily exploit one’s talents in place of those they lack or are too lazy or fearful to exercise for themselves.” He also believes, “The Collective always and necessarily dilutes the talents of the gifted. They don’t want to be shown up as mediocre, so they will always try to drive down any excellence they see arising,” (Price). It is not ethical for a person’s genuine talents to be exploited or diminished for the good of “society at large” just because of the misguided notion that all people owe...