A higher sense of individuality

In my home country of Japan, no original word for "individualism" exists. Our culture adopted Chinese characters to describe this concept, but it was and still is not well understood and practiced. In a small land with so many people, the Japanese have learned to sacrifice "self" to find virtues useful for being a helpful part of a community or society. Two sayings serve to contrast the difference between the Japanese view of self and the Western view. The Japanese say, "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down"; Americans state, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." Japanese children are taught not to "stick out" but to blend in.

When I came to the United States, I learned the hard way that if you don't speak up for yourself, people tend to overlook you or to decide what you are thinking without even asking you! I realized for the first time the responsibility and difficulties associated with "individualism." I was constantly treated like a foreigner and did not have a strong sense of my individual identity. That is, until I read Science and Health. This book explains that man is "God's spiritual idea, individual, perfect, eternal" (p. 115). It also says, "The spiritual universe, including individual man, is a compound idea, reflecting the divine substance of Spirit" (p. 468).

May 19, 1997

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