Rugged individualism

” Trapped in our traditional rugged individualism, we are an extraordinarily lonely people.  So lonely, in fact, that many cannot even acknowledge their loneliness  to themselves, much less to others. Look at the sad, frozen faces all around you and search in vain for the souls hidden behind masks of makeup, masks of pretense, masks of composure. It does not have to be that way.  Yet many  — most — know no other way. We are desperately in need of a new ethic of “soft individualism” an understanding of individualism which teaches that we cannot be truly ourselves until we are able to share freely the things we most have in common: our weakness, our incompleteness our imperfection, our inadequacy, our sins, our lack of wholeness and self sufficiency. It is the understanding expressed by those in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous when they say ” I’m not OK and your not OK, but that’s OK.”  It is a kind of softness that allows those necessary barriers, our outlines of our individual selves to be permeable membranes, permitting ourselves to seep out and the selves of others to seep in. It is the kind of individualism that acknowledges our interdependence not merely in the intellectual catchwords of the day but in the very depths of our hearts. It is the kind of individualism that makes real community possible.”

Source: M. Scott Peck.The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace. Touchstone. Page 58.