BU School of Social Work clinical professor Lenette Azzi-Lessing speaks to Associated Press reporter Ted Anthony about individualism and interdependence.
Excerpted from “Me and we: Individual rights, common good and coronavirus” (Associated Press):
Individualism tends to favor groups that are in power, economically or socially. In short, doing what one wants is a lot easier when you have the means (health care, money, privilege) to deal with the impact it causes.
That’s particularly relevant when the direct impact of one’s individualism — in the form of virus-laden droplets — can ripple out to others.
“We fail to recognize how interdependent we really are,” says Lenette Azzi-Lessing, a clinical professor of social work at Boston University who studies economic disparity.
“The pandemic and dealing with it successfully does require cooperation. It also requires shared sacrifice. And that’s a very bitter pill for many Americans to swallow,” she says. “The pandemic is revealing that our fates are intertwined, that the person in front of us in line on the grocery store, if he or she doesn’t have access to good health care, that that’s going to have an effect on our health.”