Follow by Email

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Collective responsibility vs Individual responsibility

Today in the Sun there was an article worth reading that addresses an issue that we see played out everyday in our politics. It is worth reading
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-japan-teacher-20110326,0,3509085.story

2 comments:

Frank Hecker said...

Point taken about the attractiveness of a society with a sense of collective responsibility; however I think the most salient quote was right in the second paragraph: "Throughout my year of living in a Japanese village on the coast of Toyama, I was referred to daily as a gaijin, or alien. While I was never offended by this term, I often wanted to be a part of the culture that was so foreign to me." But of course this was not and is not possible.

In other words, the ability of people in that society to demonstrate collective responsibility is quite likely a function of that society being closed to outsiders: You must be born into it, and in a strong sense you can never exist outside of it. This in turn promotes a strong sense of "we're all in it together".

By being (at least in theory) open to anyone who chooses to identify as "American", our society arguably could never support this degree of collective responsibility. It's a trade-off, and I for one am happy with the path America took, despite the downsides at times.

Duane said...

Frank you make a good point in your response. I too am more comfortable with the more open society that we have in the US than they have in Japan. Even though today we have many politicians decrying new immigrants it is the reason this country has got to where it is today. I just wonder if there isn't a happy median between the advantages of the collective Japanese society and the individualist American society.