Pandemic Reveals Problem With American Concept of Freedom

Justin Nguyen, reporter

The American concept of freedom is partly based on the country’s constitution. Essentially, this doctrine of freedom states that the government is not allowed to restrict any of the rights stated in the Bill of Rights. It raises a few issues, especially in times when proper authorities are unreasonably disobeyed. It has become clear, with the blatant rejection by many of mask mandates and social distancing requirements, that this view of freedom cannot endure.

One problem that this doctrine produces is individualism. Individualism, according to Webster’s dictionary, is “a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount.” In other words, each person pursues their own standards and values. Because America grants everyone permission to pursue what they feel is good for themselves, individualism develops. This can create disorder.  Italian philosopher Thomas Aquinas said, “Several men, for instance, could not pull a ship in one direction unless joined together in some fashion.” Plato said most men are too dominated by their appetites rather than reason to be trusted to rule their own life on their own. If a society has no shared end goal, it is difficult for that society to figure out its next steps.

Another problem with the American concept of freedom is that it fuels ethical decline. Other countries may enforce their morals or common good by the government or by the society itself. The American doctrine of freedom rejects these authorities. This is manifested in many Americans’ refusal to follow safety rules or recommendations with the explanation that these government actions are unconstitutional. This refusal ties in with individualism and a lack of charity.

Of course, sometimes disobedience is reasonable when the authorities enforce something that does not benefit the common good. Algerian philosopher Augustine of Hippo said, “It seems to me that an unjust law is no law at all.” I must point out that disobedience to mask mandates would be reasonable if there was a valid justification supported by evidence, such as if research came out stating masks don’t work. However, this is not the case with many people and they simply point to the constitution to justify their protests. However, recently there has been a rise of unreasonable disobedience of the law.

Students should avoid this philosophy and the consequences of it. They can recognize that we have the freedom to do good and accomplish the common good. However, it should not be taken as freedom from restrictions. Restrictions are not always bad and rebelling against them without proper reason can be individualistic and selfish.