Wednesday, October 20, 2021

People thrive with balance of individualism, collectivism

| September 30, 2021 1:00 AM

Steve Fioravanti’s recent letter puts individualism and collectivism in opposite corners and ne’er the twain shall meet.

Reality doesn’t reflect this absolutist view. Human beings have thrived on a balance of individualism and collectivism. We are not islands unto ourselves. Instead, we consist of communities where individuals engage in social contracts when there is an overall benefit.  

Balance between independence and collectivism enabled our forebears to settle the west. My great-grandparents knew the importance of being independent and pulling one’s own weight. But they also knew that some things required pulling together. Building roads and hospitals and getting electricity to rural areas required working together. My parents worked with others collectively to bring electricity to our rural area. We continue to see evidence of these collective actions in the form of rural electrical cooperatives like Northern Lights.  

Tying the individualism/collectivism argument into vaccine requirements is disingenuous. In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court in the Jacobsen decision addressed the balance between individual liberties and the public health.

That balance is reflected today. There is no national mandate to forcefully vaccinate anyone. But there are job and travel requirements. There always have been.

Balance between individual and group is reflected in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution which contains the phrase “promote the general welfare.”


Bonners Ferry