You probably know about individualistic and collective cultures and what they mean. You may even think of a few different countries with either an individualistic or a collective culture. And you may also be familiar with the fact that all countries are somewhere on the scale. As an example a person can be a little bit introverted but not completely antisocial. A country can have a little bit of a collective culture with some individualistic notes or the other way around. In other words it's rarely the extremes and often somewhere in between. But now as an escape from stating the obvious, I'll present to you my own thoughts on the topic.
Finland, my home country is a rather individualistic country. There are still these certain social norms and public services that could be seen as the glue that brings people together. So some togetherness is noted, and of course like minded people often socialize together in smaller groups. But the expectations regarding the individual are somewhat high. Of course an individual always has their own free will and nobody is forced to follow a directed path in life. But high expectations regarding the individual, become a negative thing when the individual has to take care of their own well being. It's very Finnish to power through with something no matter how difficult it is. We call this attitude sisu which could be seen as inner strength or stamina. Sisu is mostly a good thing and could be a form of knowledge we posses or even a form of human capital. Although when people start to suffer in silence no amount of sisu will help them through it.
When the individual is in the spotlight, personal accomplishments become very important. The individual's capability to be a part of the individualistic society is unconsiously measured by their performance in it. If they are capable to make the correct choices in life, if the have a succesful career, if they are active members of their community and even how active they are in their freetime. And if the individual doesn't feel comfortable with their lifestyle it's their responsibility to change their lives in order to achieve happiness. One thing that isn't taught is how the individual can become more loving and compassionate towards themselves. This is something that we seek from others. And now we are at the center of the problem I'm trying to present: You are wanted to become an active individual that seeks love from others through their own personal performance. Sounds kind of wrong doesn't it?
I recently stumbled upon a great quote regarding our topic today. "When a flower doesn't bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower" Alexander den Heijer. It kind of reminds me of special education but also society in general. Instead of blaming the individual for making the wrong choices or doing the wrong thing, maybe we should start to ask ourselves if there is an outside reason behind why someone doesn't feel so well or can't seem to achieve the point in which they are living their so called best life?
My viewpoint on society is a mutual relationship between the individual and the collective. The individual gives to the society by working, having hobbies and maybe politics, activism and volunteering. Then the society gives back to the individual by providing the support they need. Think of it as texting with your friend. What if you always seem to be the one sending out the message and having to make an effort to meet up with them?
How do we fix this? How can we support the individuals? I wish there would be a direct answer. But I think a good way to start is making sure to have a support group and thinking wheter or not a goal could be achieved together with other people and by doing so showing ourselves compassion and taking away the feeling of having to carry out everything alone. What are your thoughts?
Have an interesting week & make sure to listen to the people around you, it is truly rewarding!