GRE Issue Essay 27

“Instead of encouraging conformity, society should show greater appreciation of individual differences.”

It is necessary to give more importance to individual differences rather than sticking to conformity for healthy growth and development of a society. Each individual has a different perception about things around him. Moreover, each person has a different aptitude and expertise for handling common day-to-day issues. Therefore, appreciating individual differences and capabilities will lead to the overall development of society as these individual differences may succeed in bringing to light facts, strategies and techniques that may change the face of not only a particular society but also the entire mankind. On the other hand, there are certain norms laid down for survival as a part of the society and one cannot allow people to break away from them or else it would lead to the widespread growth of anarchists in the society resulting in the creation of an environment that is inhospitable for living peacefully. Therefore, the bottom-line is that there is a certain limit beyond which society should appreciate individual differences.

In the past, societies were rigid and supported conformist views to the extent of ostracizing individuals who dared to think differently. However, our history is testimony to the reality that ideas and facts that emerged from individual differences have been proved to be right and they have actually succeeded in changing the mindset of people and their outlook towards how they perceive the world. Take the example of the facts related to the universe and the earth. People believed the earth to be flat. It was also staunchly believed that the sun revolves around the earth and that the earth is at the center of the universe. It took the models created by people like Copernicus to bring out the actual facts. However, their ideologies were fiercely opposed by certain members of the society. As centuries went past, it was discovered by the means of scientifically proven facts that these individuals were correct. These actual facts could have never been brought to the notice of the society if no one was given the liberty of voicing his personal opinion.

The conformist views of a society can be detrimental to the well-being of the society as a whole if individual differences are not accepted and appreciated. It is necessary to give every individual his space and give a patient hearing to his views on a subject. It is quite likely that these individual differences will be met with resistance from people who are used to following certain norms and way of life, but appreciating such differences will lead to a lot of good for the society or even an organization as a whole. Suppressing the wishes and opinions of others in the society would lead to discontent among people which may even lead to the eruption of violent protests. Therefore, it is always better to appreciate the individual differences, understand them and try to accommodate them into the society.

However, this does not mean that society should give a free hand to opinions that are definitely detrimental to the health of society. Since time immemorial, race and caste have been major problems for society. There are people who have very staunch religious beliefs and they go all out to condemn other religions. Society cannot afford to appreciate such individual differences by any means whatsoever. Therefore, there has to be a certain minimum laid down standard beyond which individual differences ought to be appreciated by the society.