Council Message: Freedom is Synonymous with Responsibility

thumb-spencer-haymond-council-messageBy Councilmember Spencer Haymond

As I go about my business and life, I often hear the phrase, “Somebody should do something about that.” Of course, what they are typically referring to is that the government should do something. Admittedly, having another person or entity take care of my responsibilities is more convenient. However, when I think the government should “do something”, it’s usually the most expensive and inefficient route possible. A culture of no responsibility has been building in our nation for decades, and we can see the impact of that thinking. We the people want everything, yet we don’t want to pay for it or do it ourselves.

The freedoms we enjoy have been built on true principles. The strength and truth behind the American experiment is that people can govern themselves. This idea of self-governance was a radical notion in the late 1700s. Before this experiment, people lived under various totalitarian governments. While there were attempts to create more freedom, bondage was still the norm. When we stray from principles of freedom and responsibility, we go against the warning of George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

The greatest responsibility we have as a free society is that of restraint. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. Government freebies may appear heaven sent, but the secondary impacts often cause greater harm than the initial benefits. When people refuse to restrain themselves, society gathers, begging the government to step in. Benjamin Franklin spoke of the cause of ever-expanding government when he said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

A return to personal responsibility empowers an individual and unites a community. As we take time to serve - for example, picking up trash along the roads, parks, or places of business - smile and wave to friends and future friends. This will build a better society and give you a sense of belonging. As we each make the effort to maintain and uplift our city, the sense of community, friendship, and respect will grow and bless the lives of all.

I recently witnessed the power of personal responsibility as my four-year-old son learned how to climb out of the pool on his own. He was required to exit the pool from an area where he could not touch the bottom. For many minutes he hung from the edge of the pool as he attempted to lift himself out. He cried, asked for help, struggled, and eventually lifted himself high enough to get his leg over the edge and with a final struggle he was out. The tears were gone, and the smile on his face was priceless! He had accomplished on his own something he thought impossible without another’s help.  

As we celebrate the independence of this great Republic, let us each step forward and take the responsibilities of freedom upon our own shoulders, and do all we can to be better caretakers of our city, neighbors, friends, and even smiling strangers we pass on the road. Remember, you are somebody--you matter!

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