Today, I discuss the importance of society and community. Then, I cover how to protect yourself from our broken society while you build virtuous communities.
Table of Contents
- Society Is Necessary
- What Should You Do Within A Broken Society?
- Rebuild Society With Your Small, Stable Communities
Society Is Necessary
“Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine.” – Honoré de Balzac
Society is “the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community.” It is a group of people within a location (typically a country) who share similar values, ideals, and cultures.
Different institutions teach how to follow a society’s cultural norms, narratives, and behaviors. For example, schools teach people the history of their culture, churches teach the moral values of a community, and businesses help people financially support society.
Despite being an individualist, I am not against society or community. I am not opposed to groups of people coming together to take care of each other, support a common goal, and protect one another against external attack and internal corruption.
As individuals, we need others for community, love, trading, conversation, and a host of other things. Additionally, having a common narrative, shared purpose, and set of ideals helps individuals get along.
However, you must always ask, “what are individuals being told to fight for, admire, and defend within the broader cultural narrative?”
Our Modern Society Is Corrupt
“A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.” – Robert A. Heinlein
In the West, the values are depressing: hedonism, collectivism, greed, and short-term thinking. Our society is full of out-of-wedlock births, broken families, bloated governments, corrupt businesses, predatory churches, and so on.
Everywhere, from entertainment to government, terrible, soul-breaking ideologies are being pushed forward. None of these ideas, values, or systems promote sustainability, individual rights, private ownership, family, or virtue. In short, nothing within the central institutions of our culture encourages a stable, long-term society.
This is not good. A government that doesn’t care about spending will drive its society into financial ruin. A business that does not care about its workers or the environment will consume and consume until nothing is left. And a populace that doesn’t care about its virtues will pursue every addiction without caring for the future.
What Should You Do Within A Broken Society?
If society is essential, but the bulk of the individuals are making misguided choices, what should you do? What recourse does an individual have against the mob and the ruling classes? Should you support, promote, and endure a society full of broken and lost individuals?
No. Individuals should never support or tolerate that which lacks virtue. If your society is dying and shows no desire to change, you are not obligated to sacrifice everything to save a sinking ship.
Always Focus On Your Immediate Communities
“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Firstly, think less about the macro and more about the micro. Focus on what you control instead of obsessing about the larger-scale issues you can’t directly fix. I am not arguing for apathy. I argue for prioritizing.
For example, I have infinitely more influence over my children’s lives than I do the outcome of the federal election. Therefore, I should vote, maybe have a few conversations, and attend a rally or two. However, the bulk of my time should be spent with my family and instilling virtue in my children.
Even if I focus a lot on the election, my side could still lose. Even if my side wins, my candidate may lie about all his promises. And I would have spent little time with my children, which robs them of the stable foundation they need to grow into successful individuals.
Apathy is not the game, but prioritization is. You have more control over your immediate life than anything else. Why would you focus most of your efforts elsewhere?
Your virtuous communities will help rebuild society
“No social stability without individual stability.” – Aldous Huxley
On the micro-level, your community, when properly strengthen, will help rebuild your broader culture. Focusing on what is immediate creates meaningful results. The strong individuals you surround yourself with will give you the protection and stability you need to push forward. You will do the same for them.
And that is how society should be. Full of capable, virtuous individuals who have self-control and an eye for the long-term. Therefore, the best way to find your moral community is to be virtuous yourself. Competence attracts competence. If you are virtuous, hard-working, capable, and prudent, you will easily find others who are the same. Of course, trust takes time to build, but once you have earned each others’ loyalty, you can create a stable community worthy of respect.
Rebuild Society With Your Small, Stable Communities
Society, like a forest, is made of individuals. Our trees are rotten: individuals are addicts, slaves to the ruling classes, and blind to the abuses of the elites. The trees rot, and so does the forest. However, a few strong individuals can revitalize society by being strong and capable. You cannot save society, but you can protect yourself. In doing so, you put forward one more individual who can create a better culture than the one currently fading.
Remember, society is necessary. Very few of us are “rugged individuals” who need no one else. However, you do not have to cheer as the ruling classes sell your children into debt slavery. You don’t have to join the mob in attacking the virtuous. You do not have to support elites when they defend questionable lifestyles and behaviors.
What you can do is focus on yourself and your immediate community. Virtuous individuals and stable communities will provide the foundation by which a better society can and will emerge.
“Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.” – Robert E. Howard
- What is one thing you like about your community? How does this aspect benefit you?
- What is one element of society you find frustrating? For example, do you despise the bloated government that can’t alleviate issues such as homeless?
- Do you fear the collapse of civilization?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.