The 'I' in individual.

I've been thinking and that's a very dangerous thing! You have been warned...

I've been thinking about us as people. I've been thinking about me as a person. I've been thinking about 'i' - specifically the 'i's in individual.

It all started when I saw this quotation plastered on a board at a University:

'A community inspiring individuals to succeed'.

To most who walked past it, this quotation was harmless. After all University is supposed to be a place of 'success'. Most people probably didn't even acknowledge it, making this quotation inherently harmless. This board is no longer present at the University and therefore this quotation no longer has a physical presence on campus - once again it has been shown to have become harmless. But for me, as a student within the University, this quotation infuriated me and I want to briefly explain why this was and still is the case. To me this quotation causes HARM.

1. Individuals?

Why are we focused on the individual? The me? The I? Not the us or we?

To me the word individual is a paradox. As a definition, individual means single, separate, of or for a particular person. It makes us focus on 'I' and not the 'them' in a community. But if you look closely there are three 'i's in individual. Maybe these 'I's should be grouped together to make an us or we then? Lets focus on the group and not the 'I' then.

2. Community?

Is a University really a community setting? What is a community in the first place? Surely University is an institution and not a community?

With student tuition ever increasing, University to me has indeed become an institution that forces the people within it to think and act in a certain way in order to keep attracting more students - and, more importantly, more money. University has become an individualistic institution and in this sense University is most certainly not a community free from the affects of this institution.

3. Success?

What is success? How do we define it? In University one would obviously assume that success is limited to getting a good degree, which may help you with your future career (by the way, the success of this future career is supposedly dependent on the amount of money you earn). What is particularly telling about this quotation is that it almost assumes that this particular institution, that of the University, is the only place where we can succeed. This is far from the truth and this is an idea that is particularly damaging.

I know, I know... These are all sweeping statements. There is no proof. But this is what I think. And sometimes thought has to be enough.

The quotation itself is a sweeping statement.

Maybe all this thought is because I'm doing a drama degree? Maybe it's because I believe theatre should be collaborative and accept failure, not individualistic, just like everything else in life? Maybe it's ok not to know and just accept that this was all just a thought?

Who knows?

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