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We have been so caught up with the American ideals of individualism that we have lost touch with our human connection to other people and the rest of the world.
By: Sasha Kobler
Here we are, faced with a grave economic and ecological crisis and what are we doing about it? Most of us seem to just be waiting for something to happen or trying to ignore the mounting problems that face us. It is time for us to wake up, look truth in the eyes and act as compassionate human beings. The very society we live in is crumbling and the problems we are facing won’t go away without a shift in the way we think and function in society. We have been so caught up with the American ideals of individualism that we have lost all touch with our communities and the rest of the world. We have given up all democratic involvement in the way our society is run to the interests of big corporations and the wealthiest 1%. We have stood by silently and been disempowered and made to feel like we can’t make a difference.
The problems our society faces are real. We can no longer reason that they do not affect us personally or our family, because in truth we are all one and our wellbeing is closely linked to that of other people. Our future depends on each and every one of us standing up and standing by what we believe with integrity. Let’s move from a culture that values individualism to one that values collectivism and the common good.
Our values are so deeply rooted in individualism that we have become alienated from humanly connection to other people and their wellbeing or suffering. Most everything in this society revolves around how each person can individually profit the most. We need to open our eyes and see that we are all interconnected and our wellbeing is closely linked to that of other people. We cannot even begin to address the change our society needs without changing the way we think. Our system is based on growth that is unsustainable and our mentality of everyone for themselves can’t be sustained much longer. We need to find a way to reincorporate a conscious connection to the collective good and responsibility to others. I feel that if we can see ourselves as part of something and feel a part of something we can begin to make this shift. I think we need to feel as though we are part of a cohesive group, a group where we reinforce social responsibility and caring for other people. We can begin to reinforce a system of real democracy within our lives in that we change the very way in which we value responsibility to community, family and work.
Cooperatives are a wonderful example of a structure that equally distributed power and creates a sense of connection to other people through working together. Cooperatives practice an active model of democracy with no hierarchal structure where everyone has an equal stake. In cooperatives, social responsibility to other people is valued and people feel that the wellbeing of other people is linked to their own. By working together in this kind of environment people become reconnected with the collective consciousness because everyone's success and wellbeing is linked to that of other people. By creating a sense of connection, inclusion and shared responsibility I think we can use the model of cooperatives to make a shift in consciousness. I think cooperatives are an ideal format for reintegrating our society to feel connection and responsibility to others. We must realize we are all truly one and make the shift away from the deeply ingrained values of individualism in order to manifest the change this society desperately needs.
Sasha Kobler is a student in the social movements class at Sonoma State University.