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Egalitarianism vs. IndividualismSince the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the citizens of our new nation have been reflecting over two main conflicting ideas: Egalitarianism and Individualism. Both represent desirable qualities for our country, but their obvious differences and intentions make them quite opposite. On one side, Egalitarianism promotes the idea that Americans should all be equal and that no one is better than anyone else based on race, gender, ethnicity, or other characteristic. Also with this theory, is that all Americans deserve to have the same rights and privileges as any other. The overall idea behind of Egalitarianism is equality, while on the other end of the spectrum is Individualism, which insists that Americans should strive to be different and unique. This idea also promotes individuals to be self-reliant and only to be concerned with one’s own benefit, while Egalitarianism is the opposite and supports teamwork. Examples of either of these two ideas are clearly supported or rejected in many of the readings. I believe the instances in which these are portrayed the most evident are Martin Luther King’s “Address at the March on Washington,” Cesar Chavez’s “Address to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco,” and Crevecoeur’s “Letters from an American Farmer,” all of which promote Egalitarianism. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” and Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” both have strong opinions in favor of Individualism.Martin Luther King Jr., a famous crusader for civil rights, may be one of the most well-known Egalitarians in history. His non-violent protests and poignant speaking abilities were a major influence for the build up to the Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps 1
his most legendary speech was the “Address at the March on Washington” as stated in APatriot’s Handbookby Caroline Kennedy. First and foremost, King gives reference to the Emancipation Proclamation, which was the first step for African Americans in their fight for equality. However, he goes on to say how Negroes are still facing social inequality. He states “One hundred years later, the