The subject of sociology deals with how human society functions, develops and attempts to make progress in a structured manner. Group behavior within this organized structure is also analyzed and studied for the purpose of understanding culture, relationships, and institutions.
But to what extent would we go in order to fit into the expectations of society? And if so, why?
It is, after all, a well-known fact that “Man is a social animal”.
One of the primary reasons being part of a group is that it gives us a sense of identity and belonging. It also comes with its advantages. For eg: being part of an elite club comes with the benefits of being part of any event the club hosts for its members, you may meet people whom you may always have wished to be acquainted with and so on.
Being part of society or a group, we satisfy our need to conform to the expected. We also safeguard ourselves from one our deepest fears, that of rejection.
Our membership entitles us to a possible sense of importance and in the case of some, a status elevation too.We furthermore, satisfy our desire to label or categorize people through differences. These differences may be based on deep-rooted prejudices we harbor, like towards race, region, wealth, language, religion, culture, gender and of course even color.
Amidst all these attempts to conform to society, many of us forget to understand who we are, who are those who truly accept us for who we are and who would love us for what we are. And most of all, that society is not based on differences but on finding harmony in mutual existence.
According to “Collectivism”, the individual is the mere part of what constitutes a larger frame – the society or group. But is it so?
If we are to observe society, it indeed constitutes of groups. These groups may be in the form of a family, teams that play together in the name of a sport, organizations, but through it all, it consists of individuals. Individuals with their unique characteristics and features.
From a metaphysical perspective, individuals become part of groups for achieving a specific goal. As members of society, each of us still reflects our special personal identity. An identity that allows us the freedom to decide and make choices.
The famous Civil Rights Activist, Writer, Orator and former slave, Frederick Douglass, encapsulated the powerful role of individualism in his life. Douglass’s skill with prose and his rhetorical flair were legendary. His deep insight into metaphysical perception was also portrayed in a letter that gained fame for its language and its undeniable logic. Interestingly, the recipient of his famous letter was none other than his ex-master, Thomas Auld, to whom Douglass justified his decision in running away from.
His belief in his right to live and exist can be summed up from the profound words in his letter, “In leaving you I took nothing but what belonged to me”.
Respect is not an entitlement but the birthright of every member of society. It is also a reminder to respect who we are, as we respect others, in our quest for improvement and growth.