Augustine was the first human being to say “I” in his Confessions, which was the first autobiography of the ancient world. Before then, the individual was eclipsed by group-think. After Augustine Western Civilization moved quickly to Descartes, who took the individual as the starting place for all knowledge.
Now the pendulum has swung from the tyranny of group-think to the tyranny of individualism. Rampant individualism threatens the underlying fabric of relationships and communities across the industrialized world. When individualism is our starting point we become married singles, not married couples. When individualism is our starting point we become individuals in community, not the beloved community that Jesus envisioned.
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Individualism run amok, also known as independence, isn’t the answer. Clinging and clutching to another, also known as co-dependence, isn’t the answer. Intimacy and responsibility, also known as inter-dependence, is the answer.