G.K. Chesterton once said, ‘Individualism kills individuality.’[i] With this paradoxical statement he addresses an issue that is as relevant today as it was in 1928. Part of the air of contemporary culture which we breathe on a daily basis is a radical individualism. Catechetically speaking, it is an element of the soil into which we are attempting to plant the seed of the Word of God.
Venerable John Paul II defines radical individualism in the following way:
‘Individualism presupposes a use of freedom in which the subject does what he wants, in which he himself is the one to “establish the truth” of whatever he finds pleasing or useful. He does not tolerate the fact that someone else “wants” or demands something from him in the name of an objective truth. He does not want to “give” to another on the basis of truth; he does not want to become a “sincere gift.” Individualism thus remains egocentric and selfish.’[ii]
How then might we address this in our catechetical work?