Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The American Spirit

One of the attractions we saw on our recent trip to Disney World is the Hall of Presidents at Magic Kingdom. Strikingly patriotic. However, as I sat and watched and listened, and particularly as I looked around the room I was as equally saddened as I was grateful. Steve Burns of StartedByAMouse.com writes this:
The different moments portrayed in the attraction show that the main characteristic of America is its spirit. The American people have had the spirit to keep pressing on, whether in good times or bad, in peace or in war. Along each side of the theater are statues representing these spirits of America: adventure, compassion, discovery, freedom, heritage, independence, individualism, innovation, knowledge, pioneering, self-reliance, and tomorrow.
As I walked passed those spirits the last one before the exit struck me profoundly: individualism. As much as I love my country, and I do love her, the fact that we celebrate individualism as an essential aspect of the American spirit nearly brought me to tears.

And I had to admit, individualism is an essential aspect of our culture, at least today. Lord God, have mercy.


Edward Amsden said...

I don't think that individualism is a bad thing full stop. I do think that like anything else, it can become an idol, and we've made it one here. To the extent that America fostered the ideal of doing your level best yourself, and not permitting social barriers to stop you, individualism has been a good thing. To the extent (a great extent) to which idolizing individualism is convinces people to ignore each other, their communities, and God, it's not a good thing.

Matt said...

Ed, you have a good point, but I wouldn't call "doing your best" and a general disregard for social barriers individualism. Is it?