Even the strongest person cannot face an endless challenge. There are some challenges that are imposed upon a person. These can be due to health or family, for instance. On the other hand, there are challenges that are accepted by a person due to the way society is made up. These challenges are also imposed upon a person, but then, there is also some voluntary acceptance.
Think about it. How many choices in life are made by an individual to gain the acceptance of others, or to win some praise?
Individuals dissatisfied with the norms of society can be found throughout history. Why? It is possible that these individuals saw something lacking in the social criteria for success, or how society measured greatness. It is also possible that these persons saw the failure of their own society and were willing to honestly admit them. Either way, these persons became social misfits. Even though it was not their intention to be anti-social, they could see how a compromise was difficult to come by.
Societies have always struggled to settle down to a norm.
Self-worth is not determined by society
The concept of self-worth is not new. Whenever social norms have become deeply set after periods of revolution, this issue has risen. Even during times of change, individuals aspire to set themselves in a place of security. If a person’s identity is threatened by the very society he is a part of, then his whole existence is affected. Those individuals who make a harmonious existence within their societies find it much easier.
As societies increase in complexity, individuals find themselves affected by these changes. After a point, social measurements can seem unreliable. Money, wealth, education, beauty, gender, religion, family background, political beliefs, nationality – if each of these criteria is met with dissatisfaction, and it is – then, society finally narrows down to the individual. It is up to the individual to find peace. This peace is found with a healthy sense of self. That is why self-worth is of critical importance.
It should make sense, not to let others determine the worth of an individual. Determining worth is an act of judgment. In judging, a set of criteria or even one determining factor has to be in place for comparison. Without this, there is no possible judgment among humans. It makes sense, that if there have to be criteria, these should be such that each individual has a fair chance to prove himself. For example, if gender distinctions put men as superior to women, there is nothing men or women can do to overcome such a judgment. If it is made very specific and less superficial, by focusing on intelligence or kindness, then it gives both men and women a better chance to prove their worth. Does it not?
Stay away from judgment, and focus on development
There is an inherent wisdom in staying away from the business of judging, especially judging others. Why? For, it has to be admitted, we never have adequate information to form a judgment. If we are willing to acknowledge the complexity that can possibly come from a human being, it would readily seem imprudent to judge anyone.
Also, it takes a lot of effort to judge others. We might be absolutely certain of having reached a conclusion. Yet, after some time it may become clear, there was some misunderstanding. Keeping in mind the possibility of misunderstanding, it is wise to reserve judgments for a time when there can be absolute certainty.
Better than all this self-burdening with judging others, keeping a healthy sense of self-worth is better. It cannot be denied, humans today are at a point where the individual is the basic unit of all society. There was never as much scope for individual empowerment as there is right now, basically by virtue of access to information. It can also be said, healthy societies are founded on healthy individuals. With the passage of time, society can be rebuilt upon these individuals with a healthy sense of self-worth. Such independent, capable, yet responsible individuals can bring the most meaningful development.
The balance of individual with society
For the purpose of satisfying needs, companionship, and simply being true to human nature, the natural result is always some form of society. No matter how capable and developed an individual is, he would have to become a part of society. Without rules and standards, no society can function. The disorder will also be of great detriment to the individuals in that society.
Self-worth is of great value, and not to be compromised at any cost. It cannot be handed over to others to make or to break. Yet, for the purpose of coexistence, this sense of self-worth cannot be allowed to become the overbearing attribute. This will be divisive. One can only hope for a society where developed and mature individuals are in sufficient numbers. These will rejoice at the development of other individuals, cooperate with them, and not end up feeling threatened by the existence of others. These would be good role models for others!
Self-worth will always be needed for a human to thrive. It will be found to endure in individuals of societies that have love.
The power struggle between individuals and societies has always existed. It seems to be in the very nature of humans. If these powers can be respected and kept in a balance, these would not be excessively opposed. There is going to be ongoing peace and conflict. This is how human nature seems to play out. Still, in the realm of human possibility, the best thing is not to end this peace and conflict, but to let it be. Self-worth will always be needed for a human to thrive. It will be found to endure in individuals of societies that have love.