Where does an individual begin and a collective end? Or vise versa? How does that individual fit into that collective and stays an individual? Of course there are many collectives that we as individuals belong to, either willingly or unwillingly. Family is the first collective we come into and depend much on its well-being, both physical, moral, social. As we grow older, our friends become another sub-group we much depend on, for we are social beings. Then, with age we step outside the boundary of our family more and more (considering the circumstances allow us to have a familial place throughout our growing years). As one more part of our being leaves the familial hearth, it enters another collective, such as friends, school, college. Then work becomes our life (that is for most; of course we can not apply that mass-view to every individual). In a sadder scenario, work gives place to gangs or hospitals. With every such collective a part of our individuality begins to belong and to offer oneself to a group. Then, that part begins to ride the waves of life: by sacrificing itself to the group, this particle of ourselves is forced to experience hurt, sadness and disappointment through all the depths of human existence, then rises up through the waves of joys, accomplishments, and happiness.
However, lucky are those who have other collectives to surrender to, such as those where one's individual particle may be able to create social change, when one cares about others enough where that particle does not sink into the ocean of human ignorance but is able to actually make a difference. Such are also spiritual aspirations, where one's belonging to a collective of spiritual seekers leads to higher aspirations of one' s being, to becoming kinder and wiser through specific set of applications that require discipline and faith. In that case, an individual also cares enough about humanity and universe and tries to serve and help whenever possible. In these latter cases then, succumbing to the collective does not make one it's slave but a driver of cultural and societal progress.
Artists and thinkers, of course may be presented in that light as well, as proprietors of humanitarian motion forward. An individual does not need, however, to belong to an organization of any such statue. One may offer a part of one's self in a selfless way to any collective one participates in. An individual simply must live with that consciousness of service and growth on the daily basis.