I to We—From Individualism to Collective Identity

Standard

Principle #2

When the author starts talking about the We culture she was born into, her story reminds me of Muppet Christmas Carol, and a conversation between Rizzo and Gonzo.

Rizzo: Rats don’t understand these things.

Gonzo: You were never a lonely child?

Rizzo: I had had 1,232 brothers and sisters.

Gonzo: Wow, rats really don’t understand these things.

She makes several We statements:

  • We cultures have a strong sense of belonging and sticking together
  • We cultures share everything.
  • We cultures work together so everyone benefits.
  • We cultures center on people.
  • We cultures are collective and relish togetherness
  • We cultures are impeccably inclusive
  • We cultures put benefitting the whole before the individual
  • In We cultures the I exists only in relationships to others, not as a separate entity.

She makes some comments about how individualist cultures are different. One of the things she mentions that I want to discuss some more. Individuals are highly differentiated. People who are different, who are odds, are tolerated more in individualist cultures.  “We” cultures are death to the “odds”, those who don’t fit the pattern. The only way for odds to survive are to lay really low, suppress themselves, or have a sponsor to protect them. In “We” culture conformity is the standard. I will say it again, these cultures can be death to “odds”, and I do mean death.

Her summation of We is:

THE WE ORIENTATION values the common good and safeguards the community’s long-term welfare. In We cultures it is the solemn responsibility of leaders to ensure that children have the resources and preparation to live a good long life. The We identity encompasses ancestors, present-day people, and those who will follow— a vision in sharp contrast to the economic inequality, corporate greed, fiscal irresponsibility, and environmental crisis ravaging our nation today.

Bordas, Juana (2012-03-26). Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age (p. 56). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

And by ensuring everyone conforms for the common good, the We cultures don’t prepare their people for unanticipated changes. And that is how those Central American tribes got bowled over by the invading Spanish.

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