An Ideal is not some unattainable romantic notion. It exists. It is absolute. It has lived as an idea throughout the ages, but it is much more than an idea. The Ideal is a spiritual entity, a state of being accessible to those who are willing to undertake the long, laborious journey to its attainment.
Perception is not reality. There are basic facts to existence which an individual ignores at his or her own peril. However, the individual can, without altering these broader truths, mold reality into a form that fits their needs and wants through one practice: discretion.
The essence of individualism is obviously personal experience. The limits of interpersonal interactions and philosophical knowledge are the absolute constraints of individual reality. Man is not an empath. He cannot assume the grief or joy of another. By comparing and contrasting his own experience and reactions he can come to understand another’s experience, but only by imagining a situation wherein he meets similar circumstances. Man can no more divorce his ego from empathy than he can breathe for another.
True, his instincts have been refined by millennia of precedent, but man has an innate ability to discriminate. And his decision to do so is completely autonomous. Some gut instinct may warn him away from situations likely to be deleterious to his health. Promise of pleasure may draw him into other predicaments likely to have the same result. But his will alone dictates the degree to which he chooses to heed or disregard the whispers from his head and heart. Growth comes from checking the veracity of such instincts against real world outcomes, weighing actions and their consequences against likely other results, and compensating in future for the path most likely to lead to his idea of success. Only the exercise of individual discretion can accomplish this growth.
This same approach to life ought to underlie personal ideology. Though truth is absolute, its weight is relative. Unique needs and inclinations are the scale that determine which ideals and societal trends become dominant, both within wholly private life and in broader culture. A plurality of individuals agreeing on the appeal of one idea or product naturally buoys merit to the apex of society, leaving those whose judgments differ still free to follow their proclivities.
Ideologues are not people to be branded as intransigent zealots whose voices can be dismissed as dogmatic and inconsequential. They, with a fully defined set of precepts, possess a blueprint for living. Their existence is more consistent and absolute. The individual whose actions are dictated by the frenetic energy of the moment, whose brash words contradict his actions, whose emotionalism is shallow and fleeting is not one person, but many transient personalities. He contradicts himself constantly and therefore his existence is in flux. Which is the true self? There is not one, for there is nothing of true, deep sustenance which acts like a spark for the tinder of the soul. If there were, his actions would be more staid. He is hollow, his actions catalyzed by mere momentum which cannibalizes itself to continue moving, purely for the sake of moving.
There is no point to such an approach to living, if such a term can be applied. One would not call the foundering of a rudderless ship sailing. One cannot without denigrating the labors of consummate sea men who channel energy and passion into honing skill.