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The Individual v. the Community [RC]

February 3, 2013

Terry D. Kester argues that America is becoming a narcissistic, individualist culture, and we are losing our larger sense of community. Is he right?

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  • Always learning February 12, 2013 8:48 am

    Hello Mark- I am a listener who originates from the land of narcissists- Los Angeles- and from a family totally consumed with themselves. So I am very familiar with Narcissism. Your discussion left out the difficulties in being raised in and around a city and culture of narcissists. It is very much like being raised in an abusive home. In order to best understand how to get along in a family or culture like this, the old saying if you can’t beat em join em, best describes it. If the narcissist doesn’t get their way and is not happy or pleased by your actions and statements and it’s not all about them -you are against them, often an enemy-their thinking is if you are not with me you are against me and at best you are considered stupid and ignored. It is very difficult for a child who is raised by people with this behavior to see outside the circle of influence and to break away on their own with negative comments, opinions and threats of ex communication from the only family the person might have. So how can children raised in this type of family and culture learn to recognize and create a ‘normal’ family and community, when there is less and less community spirit as you mentioned? and if you are not religious.
    I was able to recognize the source of my unhappy life and break away fairly early (15), lucky me. I was also lucky that I had one set of grandparents that I was able to connect with for some small amount of encouragement and (non financial) support.
    I traveled the world working here and there and met people who were ‘accountable’ for themselves and their community. This is how I realized the need to seek out real people to connect with, where the motive is not -Who do you know and what can you do for me?
    I created my new family much like orphans do, and I would never go back to my family of origin. I was able to release a huge amount of toxic energy and find a level of freedom and relief because of it.
    I think your discussion about narcissism should have first defined what narcissism is, how difficult and abusive it is and how important it is our citizens stop it from affecting our culture.

  • Alfredo Martin Bravo de Rueda Espejo February 4, 2013 4:20 pm

    Thanks for the show. Greetings for Marx Levine and Terrorist Kester. By the way, will Richard (a.k.a. Garland) Nixon’s parole officer let him join the show next week?
    To the point of the show, I think there’s a deeper root to what you are discussing. Liberals can’t get sustainable victories in a culture of 140 characters. They might win some elections but as soon as the people see that it’s not raining $20s, they will get back to Republicans like in 2010. Consider how long did it take to Republicans to get back to the White House, the Senate and even the House after the big screw up of 1929. Why is this happening? Because Republicans use codes to appeal to prejudice. That’s the essence of the Southern Strategy. When Republicans wrap their prejudices in slogans, that’s easy to wrap up in 140 characters but to give a convincing rebuttal you need some more time and people’s attention span has shorten so much that they get bored or lost with anything longer than two paragraphs. CNN itself has contributed to this a lot. Shielded behind the rationalization that this short attention span has made easier, it’s easier to be a patriot at the only cost of bumper stickers and lapel pins (Consider the 2% involved in the war now with 10% or more in other wars); it’s easier to defend life by saying that you’re ‘pro life’ at no cost for you because you don’t want the responsibility for the unwanted unborn with more taxes or adopting them; it’s easier to defend the ‘rule of law’ to condemn illegal immigrants and feel good with yourself despite the numerous lies (and, in many cases, open racism) behind that position as checking the veracity of your believes with the immigration law becomes unnecessary. Another one? Republicans claim to be against taxes but when it is about the Making Work Pay credit, Payroll Taxes and Earned Income Credit, tax increases are Okay.
    Consider that the main problem is not a lack of ‘moral’ compromise as Republicans claim to be the really patriot due to their verbal solidarity with the army and their rationalized support of weapons contractors. The first part of the problem is that liberals are trying to challenge their slogans with other slogans, “USA USA USA” versus “Bring The Troops Home; Bring The Troops Home; Bring The Troops Home.” At the end the Republican position is not exposed for what it is and everybody gets back home feeling validated in his believes. The second part is that even if you could come with the right argument, people are not willing to pay attention beyond a 140-character tweeter. If you check the levels of readership among Americans, they are a shadow of what they were in the times when the first union members joined in study groups.
    This doesn’t mean that your message has to be 100% rational but maybe the opposite. Consider 9/11, an emotional breakthrough moment. Nevertheless, in a context of shallow discussion, it was used by Bush to pass everything he wanted just by invoking 9/11. Even chicken hawks unseated war heroes in 2002 invoking 9/11! More, this reductionism of the debate has let Republicans to reset the parameters of the debate. Thus the economy has been reduced to a discussion about income taxes instead of investment and competitiveness despite all the evidence available.
    What to do? You have to extend the parameters of the debate so you can expose the shallowness of the Republican position. That’s not easy and it takes time but one place where you can begin is by challenging the patriotism of the people. If you really love America, give at least one hour of your time to study and you can begin by proving me wrong in this, this and that point. Once the people are left alone with the reasons that destroy the rationalizations that make them feel comfortable the only way they have left is a reconciliation with the truth.