Avishkar Govender
Avishkar Govender

I am an individual

I am an individual. I am a unique person. I am not like anyone else and I do not behave like anyone else. I am myself a singular being, and I behave like myself. My individuality is confirmed through the existence of my name and my date of birth. Theoretically there could be someone else with the same name as me, who was additionally born on the same day as me, however to mitigate against this possibility I have a unique identification number, that is mine and mine alone.

As a citizen I hold citizenship in my own right and not as a consequence and/or subsequence of someone else’s citizenship. As a citizen I have one vote in each election in which I am eligible to vote. My vote is my own, it is irrevocable, non-transferable and inalienable, and it is neither a consequence and/or subsequence of anyone else’s vote. I am not a citizen as a result of my participation in a group or subgroup of the population, that is my citizenship is not dependent on the citizenship or citizenships of a particular group or subgroup of the population.

It is evident that I am a person, with my own personality, responsible for myself, possessed of the means to control and direct my own life, and that I am obligated, as a member of society, to uphold the rule of law and the integrity of my own person and personality. I am not obligated to take responsibility for others unless I choose to, and they agree that I should take responsibility for them. This means that the family is not the smallest, indivisible, unit of society, but rather that the individual is the smallest, indivisible, unit of society.

This means that as an individual I must ensure that my personality, my mind, my body and my soul; do not become a burden upon others – and do not inflict harm upon others, whether justifiably or otherwise. I am responsible for myself and obligated to respect the rights of each other person, as an individual, in society. My individuality means that I am entitled to individual freedoms, rights and responsibilities, and that my needs and wants cannot be considered to be the same as anyone else’s.

Therefore I have to pay for what I need and what I want, in a manner that does not make the satisfaction of my needs and wants, the problem, problems, obligation or obligations of another person or of other persons. I have an obligation to take responsibility for myself and to take responsibility for what of the common good, whether Res Publica or Res Universitatis, I use and/or derive benefit of and/or from.

I am not a variation of someone else. I am not a version of someone else. I am not an imposter of someone else. I am not an impersonation of someone else. I am not a personation of someone else. I am not a forgery of someone else. I am a unique, singular being defined by my own thoughts, actions and personality. Therefore I cannot subscribe to “groupthink” or “mob mentality”. I cannot throw my lot in with others and say, “we have the same problem” or that, “we have the same aspiration”. However I can associate with whatever and whomever I choose to, provided that they agree to associate with me; and present a mutually satisfying opinion and/or demand.

Each person, as an individual, is required to take responsibility for themselves and to not abrogate or transfer their responsibilities onto other people or other things, whether the community, the government or the state. This is a non-negotiable reality of individualism. Individualism, is a defining feature of liberalism, and is distinct from other perspectives of “the individual in society” and of “the individual and the self”. I have been told that some communities are naturally conservative, nationalist, socialist, communist, workerist and/or theologicist and as such are not amenable to individualism.

The problem with this logic is that each person is an individual, replete with an unique identification number, and that if each person in these non-individualist or non-liberal communities was not evading responsibility for themselves – by making their obligations the problems of the community, the nation, the state, the collective, the union and/or the church – they would not be conservative, nationalist, socialist, communist, workerist or theologicist in any instance.

To be an individual and not subscribe to individualism is to evade responsibility for one’s self. This much is evident. Having said all of this, I must consider the approach of the government of South Africa in dealing with the discharging of the responsibilities of those who have abrogated their responsibilities, in dealing with the satisfaction of the needs and wants of those who do not take responsibility for their own needs and wants and in dealing with reconciliation of the opinions and demands of those who have abandoned their individuality and have instead banded together as all being the same.

The approach has been a one-size-fits all logic that says we are all the same and that there is no difference between each of us. In order to empower the unempowered, we have to treat each person as an unique, singular being, and to make opportunities available to each individual on an individual basis. Until such time as the government does this, that is that until such time as the government recognises and respects each citizen’s individuality, we are not going to be able to lift the poor out of poverty, we are not going to be able to lift the unemployed out unemployment and we are not going to be able to lift the marginalised out of inequality.

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