One might think of individualism as a typically western default position. In general, the countries of Western Europe and those colonized by the British have tended to privilege the rights and well-being of the individual. These cultures also tend to emphasize personal achievement even at the expense of family or group identities (+ printing press + fenced land + Magna Carta etc.). It is often argued that individualist cultures nurture a greater sense of competition. Collectivist cultures, on the other hand, emphasize family identity and group ideals, often at the expense of individual needs, desires, and achievements.* Jesus’ culture was closer to what we would call collectivism as compared to modern, western individualism.
In trying to provide examples of collectivism, I asked several friends for help. Invariably, all of the examples that came back were seemingly negative examples of collectivism. E.g. Achan's execution, Ezra's demand for collective divorce, and the like. Not all of my advisers were American nor conservatives. They were, however, all modern westerners. So I pose two questions:
1) Are modern westerners simply too entrenched in individualistic ideals to understand the virtues of collectivism?
2) If the answer to number one is 'no', what are some positive examples of collectivism from ancient narratives?
*Cultures of individualism can also value collective identity and well-being. Conversely, cultures of collectivism can also value individual desire, need, and achievement. The difference here is which concept of well-being is primary. I should also clarify that I have no intention to promote one cultural system as intrinsically better.