Individualism vs. the common good

May 31, 2010
By Anonymous

Which is better individualism or altruism? In a classroom you can see examples all of the time. Students talking to other students while the teacher is talking shows that they don’t really care about the other people. They have their own interests and the other people don’t matter. While if you walk into a different class and see that they are taking a test and every student in the room is quiet, no one talks for they all care about each other and want everyone to have the same opportunity of silence as they did. Can a classroom be both? Care for each other and still be individuals. Should they do that or is it better to be one of the other not both?

Teams. You must work together so you can do well or be good. If you do not work together you would not be a very good team. Your team would fall apart, your team won’t be able to have good practices or good games, you cannot learn the sport very well or learn at all very well. Sometimes in class we have group projects, each person must do their part if everyone does not do their part then the project will not be very good. Lets say you have to do a presentation and each of the people in your group have to do three slides, there are four people in your group and you must have 12 slides to get full credit and no one can do another persons work. If just one person forgets the group suffers. They are marked down on points even though they each did their part just that one person messed it up for all of the group. That is the common good or altruism. If in that same situation someone was in that same group and the teacher told them that they had to each do three slides for them to get full credit. Again there is one person who doesn’t do any of their slides but when they show the teacher everyone in the group but that one person gets full credit. This is more individualism. It is about what the person did not the group.

In soccer you have defenders, midfielders, forwards and the goalie. Most of the time the forwards make the goals, the midfielders help the forwards and the defenders, the defenders defend the goal, and the goalie is your last defender. If the ball makes it through everyone then the goalie is your last hope. It shouldn’t be able to make it through all of those people though. If one person messes up then it could cost the team a goal. When you are in the game you don’t just think of yourself you need the other people on your team to help you. It is almost impossible to make a goal all by yourself with out help. You need people to pass the ball to so you can get around a defender from another team or so you can get the ball farther up the field. If you had one person on your team they could get the ball taken away from them very easily and it would start to go towards your goal. You can not really be an individual in soccer you need to work towards the common good. In some cases individualism is better than the common good like the classroom situation that I described earlier but in a soccer game you need altruism to do well.

In the story Anthem By Ayn Rand no one is their own person they do not even have their own names they are just a word and some numbers, not one person thinks for himself, all of his decisions are made for him. If you are not the same as the other people they look down on you, if you are smarter or taller then everyone then it is evil. In the text they say “It is not good to be different from our brothers” and they also think “it is evil to be superior to them.” Isn’t it a good thing to be different? In this society you are not allowed to chose what job you want or basically anything, you are not allowed to want anything, they chose for you. There was a thing called the Council, they ruled, they made all of the decisions, no one questioned them, what ever they said went. Based on what I have said so far would you want to live like that? This is an extreme but it shows how good it is to be an individual but you cannot be an individual all of the time. If you only think about what is best for you how can you get anywhere?

Individualism can be good in other situations and bad in other, altruism can also be very useful in the situations that individualism is not. This means that there isn’t really one that is better, they can both be good. It matters on opinion and the situation.

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