The Role of the Individual in Society Essay Example

Individuals live in a society that constantly is trying to unite and become one whole being. However, despite the greatness of a larger being, all groups consist of flaws due to the differing ideas presented by its members. Individuals are told to follow the group and the leader’s ideas no matter the viewpoint they carry. Flaws in society were only corrected when people decided to go against the larger group and become their own individual. The role of the individual is to attempt to be stronger than the larger group by keeping their individual ideals, fighting for the injustices in society and being willing to disregard the consequences faced by their actions.

Individuals need to keep their ideas separate from what society wants them to believe. Society has a tendency to pressure its citizens into believing in its ideas rather than their own ideas. Henry Thoreau, a transcendentalist writer, wrote about his time at Walden farm, far from society’s materialistic views. Nevertheless, he decided to be far from the community so he could not be affected by their viewpoints and ideas. While he was at Walden, he began to truly experience life outside of what society makes it out to be. He says “the refusal was all I wanted - but I never got my fingers burned by actual possession” (Thoreau,“Walden”). Thoreau was afraid to own material possessions because he thought they would change his individual ideas causing him to become materialistic. Therefore he decided to be far from society so they could not change. Staying true to the individual’s ideal, however, affects what happens in the future. Meeks, creator of The SOUL (Students Of Urban Leadership) Summit states “but if you stay true to yourself and your vision for your future, you will be successful" (SOUL SEARCHING). The future is created by what the individual does. Holding onto one’s ideas paves the way for their own future but also the future of others. The actions that occur due to one's ideas impact others around them. Giving into society can lead people to lose sight of their individualism.

The responsibility of individuals is to fight to change injustices. Throughout history America has created many laws that would now be considered unfair. Slavery, segregation, Indian removal and women’s rights are just some examples of causes that individuals have fought to amend. Henry Thoreau writes Civil Disobedience in response to him being in jail protesting a tax paid to be allowed to vote. Thomas Hayden, writer of article “Agree to Disagree, quotes Thoreau and claims “His conclusion, that citizens certain that the government is dead wrong on critical issues such as slavery ‘should at once effectually withdraw their support, both in person and property, from the government,’ is ‘one of America's most successful political exports.’” (Thoreau qtd Hayden). Being a transcendentalist, Thoreau believes in going against injustices. Ideally, individuals are told to see opportunities for change. Identifying and going against an unjust law is a way to make a change. Continuing to abide by a rule or law that the individual does not believe in goes against the individual's personal ideals. Martin Luther King Jr is a prime example of a man who fought for injustice. He believed that segregation was wrong and that someone needed to fight for the civil rights of African Americans. When he writes his Letter from Birmingham Jail, he states “Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong” (King, 1565).When supporting a law, the individual sees the law to be morally right. Therefore, if the individuals sees injustice as morally wrong, then society should not force its them to believe in something that they don’t support. The job of the individual is to identify these injustices and rebel against these them to help better their society.

Individuals willing to fight for change need to be willing to face the consequences that come with going against the society. The work individuals do to fight for change can be perceived as rebellious and rebellious actions, most of the time, put people in jail. Thoreau and King both ended up in jail for protesting against injustices. In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau says, “I did not for a moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar. I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax.” He knows what he did was right, which is why he was not upset to face the consequences that came with his actions. When people are to worried about the outcome, change does not get achieved. As individuals, we see the need for change and consequences are a part of rebellion. Martin Luther King says “I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.” (King,1566). Consequence is a part of the process of fight for injustice. By accepting the punishment, King expresses the most respect for justice and morality. Understanding that being put in jail might affect the individual, but continuing to disregard the consequence proves the dedication they have to their intended role in society.

Individual’s role in society is to overpower the larger group by holding onto their personal ideas, fighting against unfairness, and accepting the consequences they might face along the way. Being a part of a larger group causes the individual to get lost with all the other members. People need to think of themselves first and society needs to recognize their need for individualism. With these individuals, flaws in society can be easily pointed out and amended creating a better and more effective society. The role the individual plays is a big part in how the future will be and what great amendments will come from their actions.


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