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GRE Issue Essay: A Society Must Put Its Own Overall Success Before The Well-being Of Its Individual Citizens - With A Free Essay Review
Prompt: "Some people believe that in order to thrive, a society must put its own overall success before the well-being of its individual citizens. Others believe that the well-being of a society can only be measured by the general welfare of all its people. Write a response in which you discuss which view more closely aligns with your own position and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should address both of the views presented."
As for the priority of overall success of a society and well-being of individual citizens of this society, I prefer the latter one. Imaging a society as a machine and individual citizens as constituents of this machine, any malfunctioned unit will eventually paralyze the system as a whole.
Many cases in the world and history have shown us how a lack of individual well-being completely overturns the previous well performed society. For example, Libya, a country experienced a civil war a year ago, used to earn a huge amount of income from oil trading with European countries and Asian countries in short of energy. Its average individual income is as high as 30 thousand US dollars per year. However, under the surface of prosperity and economic success is the underlying severe corruption and huge income distribution gap between rich people and poor people. The situation has led the country into a civil war against Qadhafi administration. The wars have made Libya one step further from being thriving. Just before Libya, a Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire due to his depression caused by unemployment and responsibility to support his whole family. Bouazizi has to support the life of his mother, uncle, sisters and brothers and college education of one of his sisters by 300 dollars earned per month. We may see Tunis as an ideal choice of vacation and the country indeed benefits a lot from tourism. However, disguised by its beautiful ocean view is an unemployment rate as high as 30 percent. These two cases in the recent Arab Spring Movement show us how important is the well-being of individual citizens in a society and overall success in terms of economy and other indicators is not sustainable without individual well being.
An example for putting overall success before the well-being of individual citizens is China’s rapid growth through strong and mandatory policies with an annual rate of 10 percent. According to some people, such growth has won this country a higher status in the international arena and is an indicator of the country’s thriving. They even argues that, due to the overall success, China met the poverty reduction goal set by UN’s Millennium Development Goals better than any other developing countries. Admittedly, in some context, overall success is beneficial. However, in my opinion this argument is weakening as time goes. First, with all these years’ rapid development, Chinese people’s happiness is actually decreasing. Soaring housing prices, food insecurity, rapid growth at the cost of the environment, the income gap, and education inequality have increased disputes and conflicts between citizens and government. All these require the government to ponder over the reason for development. The authority gradually figures out that the end is well-being of individual citizens and then reduces its growth rate.
To sum up, I totally agree that the general welfare of all the people in a society is the only way to measure the well-being of this society. A society, no matter how economically successful, is a weak one when its citizens are unable to feel happiness in their lives.
You are asked in the instructions to explain your reasoning for the position you take on the original claim, but you don't really do this. Beyond the second sentence of the first paragraph, you don't actually reveal your reasoning, and the reason articulated in that sentence is not very clear. The rest of the essay is devoted largely to examples intended presumably to show the importance of taking care of individuals in a society. Your reflections on these examples are interesting in themselves, but they do not serve well the purpose of the essay. You are not being asked to analyse examples here, or to demonstrate your knowledge of history, but to analyse an issue, and you need to be able to do this in abstract terms, which can subsequently be illustrated, if necessary, by examples. Your argument should not depend almost exclusively on examples, as it appears to do here. (There are other GRE essay prompts that specifically instruct you to consider examples, but this is not one of those essays). Instead, you need to identify issues relevant to deciding the merits of the two views expressed in the prompt, and explain how those issues inform your position. One issue that you've identified is this: neglecting the well-being of the individual citizens can ultimately lead to civil unrest or revolution. Can you think of others?