In a group, soul-searching is discouraged.
Each member of the community receives communal sanction for his way of life, insofar as it conforms to accepted norms.
An individual’s deviation from the norm usually meets with society’s opposition, but errors and deviations common to society as a whole are only reinforced by the environment.
Furthermore, the effort that enables soul-searching requires the interruption and halting of ongoing processes.
The inertia of a large community, and certainly of an entire nation, is far greater than that of an individual, and a great deal of strength is therefore required in order to introduce change.
When an entire nation is headed for disaster, each individual member is not only unaware of what is happening – as everyone around him is in the same condition – but is also swept along by the general movement.
At the national level, in order to reach a point at which the individual will realize that he has erred, there is a need for a more intense and drastic shock.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz