I, like most conservatives, believe that human life is sacred. I believe that the core societal unit is the human individual in all his glory, misery and everything in between. It is the value of the INDIVIDUAL that must be constantly re-affirmed against the aggrandisement of of the collective in all its manifold forms--the church, the community, one's peers, one's school, the media culture.
The individual is sacred because he is free to choose. Will he always choose wisely?--of course not. He is however, free to make choices, to learn from mistakes and to reshape and rebuild his world.
Descartes recognised that it was the thinking individual (ego) that was the irreducible element where doubt must finally cease---Cogito Ergo Sum. I think, therefore I am.
The collective does not think rather it reacts. "Insanity is the exception in individuals but the rule with groups", Nietszche once wrote. Committees like all collectives suffer from "group think". A crowd can all too quickly turn into a seething mass of violent thoughtless swinishness. Markets are mass collective forces that are particularly subject to panics and hysteria. They veer from periods of "irrational exuberance" (bubbles) to times of manic collapse (depression).
Individuals such as Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill and Steve Jobs have undeniably done tremendous things to enhance and reshape the societies in which they lived. The possibility for greatness lies in each one of us. How much does society actually do for individuals? Society has a mixed record, at best.
We must constantly celebrate and affirm the value of the individual. He is the atomic unit upon which the family and the community is always based never vice versa. A society, on the other hand, that can deprive the individual of life and liberty for no cause (e.g. Kristallnacht) must always be a tyranny.