By: Rosemary Dewar Westernized lifestyles have created variety and accessibility in such a way as if it were an international buffet, and all for the convenient price of $8.99. That’s not a bad thing. The capability to experience the pinnacle of every culture, and use every advance to the fullest potential ought to be desired in any society. Currently, it doesn’t seem so. The illogical fear of greed- driven appropriation is a false flag in the pursuit of quashing individuality. Imagine if a fusion cuisine restaurant couldn’t open because of “cultural appropriation.” That is what happens when people are precluded from experiencing the best of any culture’s food, fashion, or ideas. The consistently growing trend of customization is fortifying the idea of the individual. You can practically customize everything you put your hands on. It used to be a status symbol of luxury or investment to customize a home, car, one-of-a-kind clothing, or jewelry. Now, the smallest things we consume every day are virtually tailored to the individual. If you don’t like the entire album, buy one song. Don’t like all the shades in a cosmetic eyeshadow palette, buy only the shades you want. Can’t find the ideal skincare? Then you can mix and concoct your miracle cream. Forrest Gump’s famous line, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get,” doesn’t hold as true as it once did. If you don’t like “toothpaste-filled” ones, you can stock your personal selection of chocolates to your heart’s content. A service that does not have the option to give the customer the added feeling of ownership is usually considered out of date or behind the times. With customization, the customer feels that they have achieved an extra level of ownership. Ownership, the word that competing ideologies decry. The capability of making something personal is a desired outcome. Personal property is a concept that many are trying to dismantle. They do so while owning an iPhone and using an app that they enjoy with a wallpaper background they probably appropriated from somewhere else. No matter how little that “i” tries to stay, it can’t help but grow up and want to become a big individual. If one-size-fits-all marketing doesn’t sell, then neither does group identity politics. Author Ayn Rand asserted, “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.” This concept flies in the face of how some actually categorize minorities. Simply because a group shares a culture, it does not mean that those who make up the group share a mind. Thoughts are as various as iPhone apps, shades of lipstick, car models, clothing designers, coffee flavors, movie productions, and then some. Can you imagine a life without the freedom to make even one less beneficial choice? And once that freedom is tasted, can you imagine someone telling you that you’ll never be allowed to experience it again? I can’t think of anything more oppressive and bland. The Judeo-Christian worldview asserts that the individual is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Why fearfully? As transcendent as the human experience is from one individual to another, that same individual is as capable of great malevolence as it is great benevolence. How a society attempts to reward either behavior dictates whether the society will last or decay. History has consistently exposed the darkness that manifests when the individual is forced how to think, how to speak, and how to live. In the English poet William Cowper’s work, The Task, he states that,” Variety is the spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.” This particular work was discovered between two momentous revolutions: American and French. The American Revolution was waged against a tyrannical government, and the French Revolution was waged against social classicism. Some Americans see class warfare as an inevitability, while others encourage it. A system that limits the productivity as well as the rewards of the individual will see the opportunities for wealth diminish to the point of revolt. This can be observed in what Venezuela is experiencing now. To eventually extinguish human suffering is to increase the opportunities for wealth in a way that the individual can succeed if they choose to. The more barriers that are created to prevent personal advancement, the greater the desire to relinquish personal achievement. Do not create a hardship that you are not willing to take upon yourself. No one wins that way. By: Rosemary Dewar

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