As I’ve lived, read, and continued to grow over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly convinced that many (probably most… possibly virtually all) Americans (myself included) have little to know idea what a community actually is. I think that we have so overemphasized individuality and independence that we tend to confuse true interdependence with parasitic dependence, and to confuse thoughtful submission to community authority based on what Mengzi scholars might call other-focused emotions such as compassion, loyalty, and rightly-founded shame, with an authoritarian repression that stunts my growth as an individual. I’ve no doubt that some people will want to dicker (yes, I just used the word dicker – and I meant it too) with my use of the term rightly-founded to describe any kind of shame. However, while being ashamed of not making enough money, even though I work hard in a field that I love and do my best to help others, might be foolish (and I would characterize it as wrongly-focused), being ashamed of being a lazy bastard who 1) doesn’t work and doesn’t try to work, 2) leeches off of family and friends, and 3) makes little to know effort to improve myself as a person absolutely is something that I should be ashamed of.* So, I want to establish that there is a legitimate place for shame in one’s self-analysis.
This being the case, my philosophical story challenge for you this week is to consider community in America. As always, I want you to write a story of 1000 words that presents and defends your perspective on the following issue: Can modern Americans build real community? If so, how?
* In light of my post a few weeks ago I want to clarify – I should be willing and able to admit that I am this person, and be ashamed of being this person. I should also accept that I am this person, and that this is where I’m starting and everyone has to start somewhere. I should also be ashamed of continuing to be this person any longer, and thus strive to become a better person.