Editor’s Note: Today’s Daily offers subscribers something a little different. Robert Ringer is an entrepreneur, a motivational speaker, and a No. 1 New York Times best-selling author. He’s known as the “mentor’s mentor.” In the piece below, Robert discusses a word that’s almost become an “expletive” in modern society: individualism.
The uncanny benefits of Individualism
From Robert Ringer, best-selling author, Looking Out for #1:
In our modern Age of Envy, it’s common to hear people take issue with the moral aspect of individualism. They often protest that individualism is a “selfish” philosophy that leaves no room for compassion.
In order to properly address such a point of view, let’s begin at the beginning and examine the foundations of individualism.
On a macro scale, it’s clear that the universe thrives on individuality. There are no two galaxies alike; no two solar systems alike; no two planets alike; no two suns alike. There are, in fact, no two objects anywhere in the universe that are precisely alike. The undeniable nature of the universe is diversity.
Here on Earth, the same can be said of vegetation, grains of sand, snowflakes, and all other matter. But what about animals? Don’t all lions, for example, look exactly alike? Actually, if you look close enough (not recommended), they don’t. But even if they did look the same to the human eye, it’s axiomatic that no two lions are exactly the same in every respect.
Further, the more complex the matter, the more diversity that is built into it; and human beings represent the most complex matter on earth. No two human beings—not even identical twins—are precisely the same in every respect.
You and I may have the same type of personality, but there are an infinite number of subtle differences in our individual personalities.
In addition, each individual has unique abilities and needs that, while they may be similar to those of other people, are not exactly the same as any other person’s. This self-evident fact is what makes life so interesting. Can you imagine what a dull world it would be if everyone were exactly the same?
Which brings us back to the sovereignty of the individual, a concept that grows out of the universal principle of individuality. This principle states that all matter has its own peculiarities that distinguish it from all other matter of the same genre.
No two things, no two people, and no two events are precisely the same. No action, transaction, or set of circumstances have ever corresponded precisely to any other action, transaction, or set of circumstances.
Infinite diversity is a universal law.
It reigns throughout both nature and the universe, and mocks all of mankind’s attempts to implement laws, constitutions, and regulations intended to make things and people uniform.
The reality is that every attempt to get human beings to subordinate their personal interests to that of the collective is futile.
Governments based on the belief that conformity is a desirable way of life for their citizens are doomed to be frustrated by the power of the principle of individuality. Since time immemorial, people have been pushing back against government attempts to repress the human instinct of self-interest.
And this is where the collectivists get it wrong.
Self-interest is neither good nor bad; it’s simply a reality of human nature. By itself, it does not harm anyone.
Only individuals can engage in good or bad behavior—i.e., in ways that are helpful to others or that violate the rights of others.
Because everyone has a natural right to sovereignty over his own life, the only kind of government that is legitimate is one that recognizes the sovereignty of the individual. Because a human being is endowed with consciousness, no other person or institution has a right to make decisions for him.
On the most fundamental level of individuality, objects bound together contrary to their nature will seek to rectify themselves by breaking the bonds that confine them, while those that come together as a result of their natural affinities remain content. The latter is the only way society has a chance to be harmonious.
Nevertheless, statists, whether ignorant or simply naïve, often see the individualist as a callous person who believes he can do anything he wants to others in order to achieve his ends. But they are wrong.
The true individualist recognizes that a person’s sovereignty does not give him a license to do anything he pleases.
Why? Because it’s not just a single individual who is sovereign; all men and women are sovereign entities. And it is this concurrence of sovereignty that naturally limits the sovereignty of each individual. In other words, the individual has sovereignty only over his own life, and has no right to interfere in the sovereignty of anyone else.
So the question becomes, where does sovereignty end and encroachment begin?
Every individual is the rightful sovereign over his own conduct in all things, insofar as the consequences of his conduct can be assumed only by himself; i.e., the sovereignty of the individual can be exercised only at his own cost.
Thus, the “pursuit of happiness” has limitations.
Pursuing the life of a serial killer because it makes one happy doesn’t cut it. The axiomatic rule is: Whoever has to bear the cost of the consequences should have the deciding power in every applicable case.
I can’t decide to take your property from you just because I believe it would make me happy, because you would be the one to bear the cost of my action.
In summation, the individualist believes that all people would be better off in the long run if they were allowed to control their own destinies. More importantly, he believes that the right of each individual to do as he pleases with his own life, subject to his actions not impinging on the same rights in others, ensconces him on the moral high ground.
From everything I have said in this article, it logically follows that the exceptional individual has a right to be exceptional. Billionaires have a right to be billionaires. Hall of Fame quarterbacks have a right to be Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Superstar entertainers have a right to be superstar entertainers.
Any attempt to thwart people’s desires, ambitions, or achievements, whether they be average people or exceptional people, is tyranny, and will always be met with resistance, either inwardly (mental) or outwardly (physical).
Mutual dependence is the root of despotism, while individualization of interests is the root of liberty. There is no rational opposing viewpoint on this matter. As Big Al would say, the debate is over.
Reeves’ Note: Robert has extended an “early bird discount” to PBRG subscribers interested in attending his upcoming motivational seminar, Your Date with Destiny. It runs July 31 through August 1 in Atlanta. The seminar normally costs $677. But if you register before May 31, he’ll take $150 off the regular price, and enroll you in this life-changing event for only $527. Click here to learn more.