Individual StrengthPage 1 of 3 Strength in Individuality Lindsey Purves March 5, 2012Mr. Kabachia Humanities 30
Individual StrengthPage 2 of 3 Many humans would agree with the idea that we are stronger as a whole, connectedand working together toward a common goal. In Tim O’Brien’s On the Rainy River, we learnthe story of O’Brien’s struggle against conforming to fight in the Vietnam War. I believehumans only choose to conform for one of two reasons: we believe it is what we haveto/should do or because we believe it will somehow aid in the pursuit of our own desires. It has been proven through history that when humans join together, conforming fora single purpose, we can achieve very great or very devastating things. Hitler used the ideathat we are powerful as a group to convince Germans to conform to Nazism in order tobring Germany back to the top of the world after the First World War. Hitler convincedmany thousands of people to conform to his ideals, resulting in the deaths of many peopleand for those who were unable to resist conforming: the disgrace of being a German formany years to come. Tim O’Brien recognized the need to conform and join in a war to battle groups suchas the Nazis, but did not wish to blindly follow his country into a war no one knew thereason behind. Instead he wished to pursue the life he wanted to live out, not fight andpossibly die on the battlefield far away from where he desired to be. “I survived, but it’s nota happy ending. I was a coward. I went to the war.” (On the Rainy River by Tim O’Brien)O’Brien believed his weakness was not being able to resist the conformity and does not seehimself as brave for going to war, instead a coward. During the Nazis’ control of Germany many Germans went along with Nazismbecause they thought that’s what they should do as “strong German citizens” or becausethey were just too afraid of the consequences of going against conformity. Hitler’s right-
Individual StrengthPage 3 of 3hand men conformed to these ideals in order to reap the rewards they would gain forthemselves. During times of war, soldiers will go into battle for either the “glory” of fightingfor their country or because it is what they “should do as good citizens.” Conformity makes humans strong as whole, but the true strong ones are those whopursue what they wish to attain for themselves.Hitler was a very powerful man because herallied nearly an entire country to aid him in the pursuit of his own personal desires. Ittakes a much greater courage to step out from the whole and stand alone than to fade intothe background and let yourself be carried along by the waves of conformity.