I awoke to this thought this morning. I don't even know where it came from - probably the remnants of a dream that I don't remember.
Perhaps the two most defining moments in a child's life are when he realizes he's a part of a family and, later, when he realizes he's apart from his family. And maybe there's a third moment - when he realizes he's both simultaneously. At once, a small but integral part of a larger whole, and an individual - a whole unto himself.
Of course, this dual aspect of personhood extends into the rest of one's life, for the entirety of one's life. You're a part of a community, a culture, the world, and yet always remaining an individual. The trick, I think, is finding the right balance. In many parts of Asia, the community is stressed - sometimes to the exclusion of the individual. In America, we have the opposite problem. Here, we exalt individuality. Individual rights are rigorously defended. Our individual desires become so important to us that we are frequently selfish and apathetic toward others. Either of these extremes are not healthy, in my opinion.
So, we must find balance - and we must teach this to our children. I'm going to try to do that. Join me.