The article “Harmony and the Dream” by David Brooks discusses the differences between individualistic societies, such as the United States and Great Britain, versus collectivist societies such as China and Japan. People who live in nations that have adopted one of these mindsets show distinct differences in how they think and process things. For instance, when Americans and Chinese people were asked to look at a fish tank, Chinese people are more likely to discuss the context of how each fish swims. Individuals from the United States are more likely to focus on the largest fish and explain the actions of that lone fish .
Variations between Asian and American cultures are also apparent when studying pictures. When American were asked to select two items that should be grouped together, most people selected the cow and chicken, as they share the common “animals” category. However, Chinese individuals usually picked a cow and hay. According to Brooks, “Americans are more likely to see categories. Asians are more likely to see relationships” (Brooks, 2008, paragraph 4).
Individualistic nations usually do better financially, valuing the rights of privacy, while collectivistic societies value harmony and cooperation, evidient in the Beijing ceremonies that used many Chinese performers, all in perfect sync. This showed that a nation’s growth is not contingent on an individualistic worldview. Research shows that positive relationships increase happiness, isolated people often more depressed and suicidal. Isolation plays a role in someone becoming a terrorist. Once potential terrorists realize that they think outside societal norms, they withdraw, especially when family and friends do not share their radical perspectives. Within this solitary state, radical ideologies, plans, and violence form in the terrorist’s mind, rational individuals unable to point out the terrorists’ flawed dangerous logic .
Therefore, I agree with Brooks’ statement that the American Dream may be more possible if Americans adopt a collectivistic worldview, emphasizing harmony and good relationships .