The following article, DAVIDSON: Individual Freedoms Worth Cherishing Require Responsibility, was first published on Flag And Cross.
When I was growing up, my mother gave me advice about proceeding in this life. She said, “Don’t engage in behavior that, if everyone else was to do it, would destroy the world.” I knew then what it meant on one level; today, the advice seems profound.
If you allow junk cars to populate your front lawn, and everyone else follows, how long will it be before your town, and everyone’s town in the entire world, becomes one big junkyard? If you smoke while you drive and then throw the butts onto the street, and all other drivers do the same, how long will it be before the streets are impassable or so littered that they disgust motorists?
My mother’s advice, applied today, tells us that while individual freedoms are worth cherishing and enjoying, they also require our responsibility. We can’t all be free to do exactly what we want all the time, even if the law allows it. We certainly can’t all engage in behavior that damages the environment or diminishes other people’s rights.
Individual vs Societal Benefit
Misguided groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union seemingly were founded on a noble purpose – to preserve the rights of the individual. What happens when granting rights to individual contributes to the erosion of society? It is a tough question for anyone to answer. The ACLU certainly has no answer.
In the name of First Amendment free speech and individual rights, the ACLU and leftists defend individuals and groups who care little about the First Amendment, the Constitution, or other citizens. Such groups keep pushing the envelope of crassness and vulgarity for publicity and profit.
What if everyone started to sport tattoos on their arms, backs, and shoulders, or wears nose rings, eyebrow rings, and nipple rings? Such behavior doesn’t clog our roadways, and such actions are a matter of individual choice, so what harm does it cause to society?
Does Safety Matter?
Aside from the health aspects of body piercings (and the data indicates a large percentage of participants experience serious infection and hepatitis) they pose safety problems to both the individual indulging in the behavior and to others around them.
As a society, do we accept visitors to hospital emergency rooms on Saturday nights whose body piercings have resulted in serious health conditions? Do body piercers have any idea about the longitudinal effects of such behavior on their health, not to mention longevity?
My mother’s simple admonition – what if everybody did it? – needs to be passed on to far more people so that those who might otherwise engage in questionable behavior become more aware of their impact on those around them and society overall.
Expanding the Notion
The legions of adult children who keep taxing our law enforcement system and appearing before judges don’t understand (and apparently don’t care) how they thwart the overall progress of society. They levy a continual tax on our public institutions and impede the rest of society from moving forward.
If you vegetate each evening watching television instead of being out in your community cleaning it up, and everyone does the same, how will your community change? If you spend hours each week focusing on the lives of people who you don’t know and are not likely to meet, i.e. celebrities, and end up relegating their lives to a higher status than that of family, relatives, neighbors, and friends, why would you expect your own life and relationships to be vibrant and rewarding?
Your Choices Impact Everyone
If you don’t manage your own weight, eat what you want, and avoid exercising, you’re gambling on genetics. Maybe you will live a long, disease-free life. What are the ramifications, however, if everyone in society decides to emulate you? What you do in your own life is largely your business. If most people in society copied you though, how would they fare? If the answer is “not well,” maybe assess what you do and why.
Our behavior impacts those around us, particularly children. If we want the world to be a better place, as Theodore Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
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