Community, Commitment, And Individuality By Robert Bellah

2142 Words9 Pages
Several advantages and disadvantages correspond with a person’s heritage, and the attitude we have towards our heritage has a tremendous effect on whether or not we accept ideas from our parents and past generations. Robert Bellah, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, along with several co-authors, wrote the essay “Community, Commitment, and Individuality” to showcase an ideal approach to intertwine our heritage with our personal lives to form a strong community of memory and hope. He recounts various life stories demonstrating critical events in the individuals’ lives to illustrate the presence or lack of a functioning community of memory and hope. While Bellah et al. focuses on utilizing knowledge from our heritage…show more content…
According to Bellah et al., a community of memory and hope is the ideal practice in creating an admirable life that essentially defines who we are based on applying knowledge of our heritage, either from direct experience or passed down by our parents, to progress forward improving our community. People involved in a genuine community of memory and hope look to tackle non-individualistic goals hoping to improve the lives of future generations to come. Les Newman, an average American who graduated from a well-known business school, thinks “American society is becoming very self-oriented, or very individual-oriented: What’s in it for me, how much do I get out of it” (Bellah et al. 65). Les explains his colleagues are more susceptible to individualistic goals feeling they can accomplish everything on their own. Les discovered himself through the church where he seemed to be just going through the motions of his regular life. He is not following his parents’ ideals, nor is he practicing a non-individualistic lifestyle. Although he recognizes the increasing amount of individualistic thinking, he falls short of reaching his full potential because he fails to apply this knowledge to his own life to improve his community like Bellah et al. recommends. In Walker’s short story, Dee…show more content…
Cecilia Dougherty, a political activist mentioned in Bellah et al.’s essay, embodies Bellah et al.’s ideal community of memory and hope after experiencing a turning point attending a consciousness-raising group preceding her husband’s death. She embraced her own identity embedded in her that coincided with her parents’ values. She was no longer ashamed to express herself and accept her heritage as helping define her as an individual. Realizing we are not just attached to what our spouse and kids accomplished in their lives, she described the epiphany of her own identity by way of “waking up as if from a sleep” (Bellah et al. 69). Once we acknowledge our heritage and accept ourselves, we can draw upon this information to advance our community. Finally, living a life without fear and trying too hard to please others, she became a political activist maintaining the honest and conscientious attitude her father had to help her community. In his essay titled “Complexion”, Richard Rodriguez recounts his struggle of being a Mexican-American encouraged by his parents to embrace his heritage yet become “Americanized” simultaneously. His uneducated mother, associating dark skin with poor Mexican workers,

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