The Other and the We

According to a 2006 study, Americans have less close relationships than ever. We are more socially isolated, and less inclined to form friendships that at other times in our history. Some people don’t mind this. They don’t want to have any identity with a collective.

I am re-reading Ayn Rand’s Anthem. She is trying to call people to throw of societal bonds that link us to a collective “We.” True freedom for her is found in individual accomplishment and personal choice. Any infringement upon a persons free choice is slavery and evil to her.

I was reminded of Jean Paul Sartre’s famous aphorism - “Hell is other people” (original Fr. - “l’enfer, c’est les autres”). Sartre thought we committed sin if we allowed ourselves to be defined by another’s perspective. So, in the play, Huis Clos, three people examine eachother’s lives - all the wrongs, the sins, the mistakes. It is an existentialist’s nightmare!

Rand and Sartre usually get idiot undergrads all riled up. They run out of their philosophy classes, buy a beret at the hat store for pretentious people, and vote for Ron Paul. But, soon, they graduate; they get married and have kids. They take off their berets and look into the eyes of an infant, wondering just who they really are.

I have found that only my son really knows me, because he does not. He just loves.

I have found that I am more when we are together. I have found that there is a joy in “We” that frees me and it abounds.

What about you? Do you feel like people in our culture are more isolated? Or is this a good thing? Are we more inclined to focus on fewer relatinship for higher quality?

cross-posted at thirdwatch

deviant art image link


Andrew said...

I love the idea that your son knows you best. My kids trust me entirely because they don't know that they shouldn't. Maybe that's a bad way of phrasing it. They love me because they love me and they wouldn't (couldn't imagine) have it any other way.

I love the concept that I'm defined by my community because it takes the burden off my "self." It's much more comforting to think that I am defined by my children, my friends, my family, my locale. I feel like that takes away the potential for my failures that I know about, that they don't know.

Does that make sense or did I just ramble?

~Andrew P.

watchman said...

you rambled.

But, it really did make sense! It was good rambling.

Community and family gives us a parachute a net. A protection against our natural limitations.


In order to live man must believe in that for which he lives.
- Huston Smith
unTapped is a conversation about faith and spirituality. There are many people frustrated by being forced to think of faith in the same old patterns, and would prefer to explore spirituality in different ways.

Anything goes here. No matter where you are or who you are, we want to hear from you. Feel free to join in the conversation!

You can also join us in person, every Thursday night at Short's Brewing Company in Downtown Bellaire, MI.