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Personal Freedom or Personal Responsibility
by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President
The United States was founded on the principles of personal freedom, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It says so in the Declaration of Independence. But continued life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness come at the cost of personal responsibility for all the citizens of this great nation.
Unfortunately, it seems that we have seen a steady erosion of the latter as more and more citizens seek the former. Perhaps the most recent example of this is the anti-mask movement in the U.S. The COVID-19 pandemic has created the need to wear masks out in public and for most of you, at work daily, and yet many of our neighbors have taken a stand, foolish as it is, to rail against the masks as a form of government control and loss of freedom.
Seems all too similar to the rebellion of anti-vaxxers we have seen for many years. “The government can’t tell me what to do!” “The government can’t make decisions for my children!” “There’s no proof these vaccines work!” All, this based on one doctored study and a strong mistrust of science!
On another front, fortunately, we are now seeing many citizens stepping up to take personal responsibility with regard to racism in the United States. So many times in this country, white people have witnessed the injustices to Black, Latino and other minorities and have done nothing. That seems to be changing but will the numbers be enough? Are those people stepping up going to outnumber those still practicing racism? Will they step out far enough to call out those perpetuating these injustices?
It seems to me that we, as a country, and as individuals, have lost the drive or determination to do the right thing. That’s really what personal responsibility is. Not just personally acting responsible by wearing a mask or being vaccinated, but stepping out of our comfort zone and doing the right thing for others.
Yes, it gets uncomfortable when you do the right thing sometimes. Sometimes it even gets dangerous. But it seems like the number of people willing to risk comfort and even themselves for others continues to decline and we need to turn that around. We need to speak out, band together, or reach out to those in authority to make the changes that need to be made. An example that comes to my mind is when George Floyd was being held down with a knee on his neck. Why didn’t at least one bystander call 911 and ask for more help and tell the dispatcher what was happening as it occurred? If someone did, we haven’t heard about it. Yes, thank goodness, someone made the video but there were others watching who could have done more. I know why they didn’t argue or try to remove the police officers from Mr. Floyd’s neck. That would have been disastrous, but calling for more police who might be more restrained could have saved Mr. Floyd’s life.
Maybe it’s time to push ourselves just a little more into the uncomfortable zone when we see something that just isn’t right? We need to band together if necessary to let someone know they are wrong in what they are doing. We need to reach out to find others who will take a risk with us for someone else to make sure that person has the same chance at life and liberty. If we all take a little extra personal responsibility, maybe everyone will be able to enjoy their personal freedom. ■