Individuality, What Is It?

[Original in Japanese]

There is nothing anyone more truly yearns to do than to express his individuality. This is because through our individuality we can express our existence as distinct from others'. When family system or nationalism fails to respect the individual and regards everyone as a mere member of a group, there is no freedom or true sense of joy. But when, even as member of a group, an individual's characteristics, or his individuality, is honored, there is a sense of joy and freedom, and of mutual understanding.

A young woman, brought up in a society where individuality was not valued, was taught simply to obey her superiors—teachers, parents, and elders. In such a society, she was considered a good member, and was living a life that was sufficiently happy.

When this woman went abroad to study in a Western democracy, she tasted a sense of joy she had never before experienced. This apparently came through a life of greater freedom. However, when one enters an environment totally different from what one is used to, one often experiences difficulties. Such was the case with this woman. She even began to feel hostile toward the old system, and was constantly troubled by such questions as What is freedom? What is individuality?

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The Value of Church Membership
January 27, 1973

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