There are four qualities that one must consider when making an ideal society: biblical tradition, republican tradition, utilitarian individualism, and expressive individualism. Balancing these qualities and even sometimes outweighing one over the other is necessary in making the best possible society. In Habits of the Heart, these qualities are described and expressed with the specific purpose of determining how best a person or society should conduct their life. My interpretation of the ideal society would include forty percent biblical tradition, forty percent republican tradition, fifteen percent expressive individualism, and lastly five percent utilitarian individualism.
In an ideal society, biblical tradition is of equal importance as republican tradition. The word tradition is taken from the word trado, or trader in Latin, which means to hand over or to deliver, or to bequeath, to pass on. Biblical tradition in this book is described as community and faith, but above all else Biblical tradition implies the creation of a moral standard. John Winthrop is the prime example in this book, but it also tells of the story of the man who stole from his cabin to obtain wood to survive. Winthrop discovered the truth and confronted the man, telling him he could take from his cabin for the rest of the winter. After that winter was up, the thief never stole again. The results concluded that the man had learned his lesson from the “moral standard," meaning that Winthrop continued to supply the man with wood as it is moral to make sure that people are able to survive.
However, one downfall to this tradition ] would be the fact that it has been used in society to disastrous results. The Puritans in Salem Massachusetts dedicated their lives and the operation of their town according to Biblical tradition. In the end, though, they ended up turning on each other for fear of evil, neighbors turning on each other and being accused of witches. Many innocent people were killed and humiliated in the Salem Witch Trials, something that shows strict Biblical tradition does not work. For modern day societies, I would alter the biblical tradition to a more firm religious tradition, because of the wide variety of religions that exist in the world today. I remember the key phrase in which “the nation that prays together stays together,” and I believe that adhering to that tradition would help create a stronger society. In moderation along with republican tradition and the two individualisms, religious tradition can be one of the main aspects of society.
Republican tradition also would be forty percent of the society which I consider to be ideal. Republican tradition is based off the idea of community, involvement of the individual, and responsibility; it also focuses on an idea of public service and qualities such as equality, freedom, importance of education. It is important for republican tradition to maintain a healthy balance of all the aforementioned qualities. However, I do believe that there are aspects of both utilitarian individualism and expressive individualism within this republican tradition that can be found. I feel as though expressive individualism is more present more in republican tradition; this is why I put fifteen percent in expressive whereas I put only five percent in utilitarian individualism. Jefferson was the main representative of this tradition. The most important aspect of expressive tradition is the fact that there is a balance of individualism and community within this society. I believe that, in an ideal society, we should have our rights of equality, equal opportunity, freedom, and education; at the same time, also I believe that we owe our community an appropriate amount of energy. At the same time, we would place God and faith (which is where the biblical tradition comes from) as an important priority in life. It is equally important to also be held to a moral standard, because my personal belief is that each person will learn and be judged based on morals. Morality is the basis of our code of behavior within society, and it is much more effective to have a specific set of rules to abide by so that there is unanimous agreement on what morals are most important.
Winthrop’s main idea of governing lied in the concept of moderation. Moderation is the key ideal in life, according to many philosophers - by maintaining a balance between extremes, it is easier to maintain a steady and consistent society. Even Tocqueville himself saw the importance when “Tocqueville, unlike Crevecoeur, saw the great importance, in the American mores of his day, of the continuing biblical and republican traditions- the traditions of Winthrop and Jefferson” (Habits of the Heart 37). According to Tocqueville, and my beliefs, the ideal society contains forty percent biblical tradition, forty percent republican tradition, fifteen percent expressive individualism, and lastly five percent utilitarian individualism. If we were to combine these unique traits in this combination, we would have a morality-based society that still valued aspects of community and individual expression.