Rugged individualism is a coin with two sides. On one hand, it's in our national DNA. Early immigrants and pioneers set out to carve their niches from our continent's luscious natural resources. Culturally, we in the USA pride ourselves on being both independent and successful. Not only independent, and not only successful, but both. How we educate our children is even based on this premise and goal. Our nation, as it exists, owes much of its outward success to rugged individualism. It is high risk, high reward.
One of the big risks of rugged individualism is isolation and loneliness. By definition, rugged individualism places less value on community, which is an obvious place for relationships and source of stability. Also, synergy is sometimes found in community, and this synergy can lead to accomplishments that would otherwise not have been possible. There are days when I am thankful for our rugged individualist heritage, but there are also days when I yearn for community. Maybe it can be said that our nation is a community of rugged individualists, and that this community lowers the associated risks.
Are you a rugged individualist? Or, do you gravitate toward community? To judge rugged individualism as preferable to community, or vice versa, is to create a false dichotomy. Similarly, do good investors put their resources in a few aggressive stocks, or do they diversify through multiple stocks and mutual funds? The answer is that good investors can do either. Investment choices depend on an investor's goals, risk tolerance, and many other factors. So it is with rugged individualism and community. What is better for one person may be worse for another. Then, in different times or situations, what is best may change. Or, if you're like me, then you most often find yourself somewhere in the middle--a sort of community-loving rugged individualist.
Model: Ashley Balzar
Kristoffer Cox Photography: Artisan Portraits and Conceptual Images