The Importance Of Individualism In America

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America has had a tumultuous existence, replete with war, progress, and ideologies. The most formidable of these is individualism, or the shift of society’s focus from the group to the individual and a growing emphasis on their personal needs and desires. Despite wide criticism, it has become the societal norm, spanning all generations, genders, races, and walks of life. Individualism, while indeed centered on the individual, is more accurately described as the changing and shifting relationship between the individual and society. The pursuit of self-gratification and preservation forms only a minute part of this concept. Promotion of personal liberties and control in the various aspects of an individual’s life and situation has been a major part of American history since its very dawn. Individualism first appeared in America in the early 17th century with the arrival of the Pilgrims, a people facing religious persecution in their home country of England. While they did indeed band together as a group under a common cause, their fight for the ideals of personal liberty was an individualistic one. This individualism thrived during the Revolutionary War as the Americans created their own democratic nation in response to a monarchy that would not allow them to govern themselves (Bellah 142). Individualism fueled the American dream of bettering one’s life using one’s own grit. It was the defining ideology that led pioneers out west to start afresh. Up until the 1950s, however,
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