Book: The House We Live In
Chapter: Only Connect
America is in need of a new Great Awakening—an ethical renewal based on human flourishing. Belongingness, relationship, caring, and connection are as crucial to flourishing as individuality and freedom, but our culture emphasizes individualism at their expense. This overemphasis on individualism lies at the root of our current discontents. It is the mindset that led the conquistadors to subdue indigenous peoples everywhere and that permits corporations to heat up the atmosphere; pollute the soil, water, and air; kill off pollinating insects, birds, and fish; and raise domestic animals in inhumane factory farms. It has led to senseless American military interventions around the world and is the root cause of extreme economic inequality. It is the reason why over 800,000 Americans lost their lives to COVID, and is the main impediment to overcoming our history of racism. This chapter shows the implications of restoring the balance between individualism and relationality for domestic policy, foreign affairs, the environment, education, and communicating across the cultural divide. It emphasizes that while there are many ways we can fix the house we share together, only a new moral vision can allow us to make the changes we need.