Disclaimer: This article reflects the opinion of the author and is not necessarily indicative of the official stance of the Grand Republic or this publication.
Two years ago, I attended the first session of my World History after 1600 course at my university. My teacher, when discussing his policies about class attendance and the use of electronics, said simply, “This world is about two things: freedom and responsibility. You are free to do as you wish, but you are held responsible for the consequences.” He went on to say that we could miss class and use our computers and cell phones, but that if our grades suffered as a result, it was not his fault. As you may well guess, most of the class was pleased with this, myself included. I had never understood why university professors cared if their students, almost all of which were legal adults who paid a hefty sum to attend classes in the first place, occasionally missed class or used their cell phone (provided they did not disrupt the class). One of my teachers even went so far as to lock students out of the room for being late or using the bathroom, while another derived a sizeable percentage of course grade from class attendance, then counted a student who was two minutes late or left two minutes early as absent. While I could go on, the purpose of this editorial is not to discuss academic injustice. No, today I write to impress upon you, the reader, the values of freedom and responsibility in modern society.
First of all, what is freedom? In this sense, the definition I lean most towards is “the power to determine action without restraint”. This type of absolute freedom is rarely seen in practice, insofar as we have so many rules that govern what we can and cannot do and so many obstacles to some pursuits, not the least of which are time and money. I do not believe that we can ever have absolute freedom, nor do I think we should: we need reasonable restrictions to safeguard people and their property. That being said, we should continually strive for maximum freedom in our lives and those of others. Why? As Tim Pawlenty said, “Humans cannot reach their potential, cannot realize their dreams unless they’re free.” Our lives and our world will never improve unless we are capable of making our own decisions and pursuing our own goals.
What about responsibility? This word means “the fact or quality of being answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power, control, or management.” Responsibility is the key to being a good citizen, yet it is often misdirected or ignored. In today’s society, people seem to avoid taking responsibility, instead shifting blame for (or response to) crises onto the shoulders of another person or the government. This kind of behavior leads to discussions that may end in restriction of freedoms due to the perceived lack of trustworthiness at the personal level. It is easy and appealing to blame others for our problems, but the truth is that each and every one of us is responsible for our own actions and behaviors. While we may not be the cause of a particular situation, we are certainly the only ones governing our personal response.
Both of these qualities are important, and you cannot have one without the other. Freedom without responsibility leads to wanton disregard for the cares and troubles of others, as well as a lack of just consequence for misbehavior. Responsibility without freedom creates slaves to a society or philosophy that are devoid of creativity, drive, and a sense of purpose. You might be asking “How do these things apply to micronationalism?”. The answer is that they are relevant in every aspect of our lives, including micronationalism, which involves dealing with people and running a government. I am well aware of this, and so the Delveran government is set up in a way that allows for a huge degree of personal freedom with many restrictions on government interference in such matters. Responsibility among citizens is also encouraged, though I recognize that this aspect cannot be enforced beyond holding people responsible for their actions. Through these policies, we empower individuals with the opportunity to shape their own destinies rather than have them dictated by some outside authority.
In the end, it comes down to the individual to take control of his or her own life. Some may have problems that prevent them from doing this, and it is those people that I encourage to strive toward this ideal most fervently. Governments need to realize that people are fully capable of making decisions and improving their lives on their own, and perhaps should take a step back. A spark cannot grow into a flame unless it is given fuel and air to breathe.
Author: Jordan Brizendine