Life is all about balance.
We work throughout our lives to achieve a balance between school and our social lives, work and our personal relationships, and everything in-between. To be honest, for most of us, it is extremely difficult to find balance in life, but we are always aiming for this goal. There is one very important type of balance that we as people need to start concerning ourselves with more than we currently are. This is the balance between the common good and our individual liberties.
We as people do not live exclusively independent of each other; we need each other to really get ahead. No person can truly survive independently, and for this reason, we live in communities, which are basically groups of people with common values and interests. The common good or working toward the common good is when those in the community come together and do things that benefit or are in the best interests of everyone in the community. Individual liberties have to do with our individual freedoms within a community or a person's rights that cannot be trampled upon by any authority.
When thinking about liberties, there are positive liberties, which are the “capacity” to do something, and negative liberties, which are “freedom" from something. In our society today, people value their individual liberties as much more important than the common good, and for this reason, true community no longer exists. People use the idea of freedom of speech to spew their racist and bigoted thoughts into the world, thus promoting hatred between peoples who otherwise, would be able to live together peacefully. True integration will never be possible when people use their “freedom of speech” to spread hatred between groups of people.
Although people want to live in “peace,” nobody wants to take responsibility for their part of the chaos. Nobody wants to put aside their differences and work towards a common good because everyone thinks that their best interest is the common good. Nobody cares about the common good anymore if it even inches close to their individual freedoms. Although people hate the fact that someone dies of gun violence almost every second in this country, the common good will never prevail if all those Mr. John Does in the middle of nowhere believe their right to easily purchase guns from Wal-Mart is more important than dead children. There will never be true progress towards a common good until people start thinking less about themselves and more about the community. If politicians in Flint actually thought about the children rather than themselves, would there still be a water crisis over there? The problem is magnified when those in power work for private interests rather than the greater good.
It is time for everyone, especially those in positions of power, to take a step back and assess themselves. It is time for people to start thinking, "Have I been working towards the common good? What is the common good? Are my personal thoughts and opinions poisonous to my community, and what are the reasons for these thoughts I harbor? Are they fact or are they fiction?"
This is a society of people, which makes it inherently imperfect and susceptible to being tainted by people. This balance between common good and individual freedom has more importance than one may be willing to realize.