The Wound of Individualism

The wound of individualism is the spotlight for part four of my blog series using the Holy Family’s example to fight the Five Wounds of Secularization (Busyness, Consumerism/Materialism, Violence/Revenge, Individualism, and Entitlement). 

Previous posts in this series on the Five Wounds of Secularization:

We live in a society that celebrates the power of the individual. Use your resources; pick yourself up by the bootstraps, nose to the grindstone, and get it done. We are individuals and each of us is important. We bring our unique personalities to the table; we bring our unique skills and offer the gift of our talents to the world. Anything becomes possible with the awesome power of the individual.

Okay, maybe I’m spreading it on a little thick with “the awesome power of the individual,” but you get the point: our society celebrates the power of the individual. But sometimes we take the idea of the individualism too far; we take that “awesome power” beyond where we should. When we push the idea of individuality so far it becomes arrogance.

We begin to believe we know all.

We believe we know exactly what’s best for us.

We believe we are in absolute control of every aspect of our lives.


We push our personal needs, wants, and desires ahead of God’s plan. The truth becomes what we decide the truth is; our moral compass points in whichever direction we want it to. We lose sight of our relative place in the world and often find ourselves mired in feelings of isolation and despair.

I know how hard it is. I walk this slippery slope of individualism every day. I teeter on the “three strikes and you’re out” limit. First strike, I’m a scientist. Many in my profession push individualism to the brink. Second, I’ve been involved in coaching sports. I’ve been full of ego, arrogance, having all the answers, and acting like I’m in complete control. Third, I’m a man, so it seems I’m always at a struggle with individualism. Heck, how can I ask God for guidance when I don’t even ask directions to that wedding we are late to but find ourselves hopelessly lost?

Slippery, slippery, slippery…

The Holy Family’s trust in God’s plan should be a model to all of us fighting the secular wound of individualism. Joseph didn’t run from the challenges placed before him, he held steadfast and trusted the plan. Mary could have easily passed on being “full of grace” and led what would have been deemed a normal life of the time. Instead she dove in and she trusted the plan. Don’t you think Jesus could have caught the ego bug and filled his life on earth with the riches of royalty? Follow their lead and put your trust in God’s plan.

“No man is an island.” 

A wise, old saying meaning, we need each other. It is a simple and beautiful concept. We must have the humility to recognize and accept the basic fact we need each other and we need our faith in God.

“It takes a village…”

We are a group of individuals, each individual important, each with something to offer and a role to play. But, like it or not, we need each other. God weaves us together as a community and a society in which everyone has a role to play. Individualism and selfishness leave empty and weak spaces within a community. They weigh us down and don’t allow us to move forward.

We need to listen and open up to those around us. We need God to guide us and show us the way. Turn down the “I know how” and turn up the “God show me how”.

We are humankind.

We are Christians.

We are Catholic.

We are part of the whole, not the whole part.

Copyright © 2013, Mike Hays

Mike Hays

Mike Hays

Mike Hays is a husband, a father of three, a lifelong Kansan and works as a molecular microbiologist. Besides writing, he has been a high school strength and conditioning coach, a football coach and a baseball coach. His debut middle grade historical fiction novel, THE YOUNGER DAYS, is a 2012 recipient of The Catholic Writer's Guild Seal of Approval Award. You can find it at the publisher's website or on Amazon.

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