As a nation of individuals, what do we owe to each other?

As a nation of individuals, what do we owe to each other?

Parker Michels-Boyce for the Virginia Mercury. The successful functioning of a free republic depends on people taking personal responsibility for their actions, but the politicization of coronavirus vaccines and mask-wearing has been a depressing reminder of the downside of American individualism. Too often now that translates into a disregard for the rights of others, coupled with an insistence that our own opinions must be given as much respect as any expert’s. In the case of COVID-19, the results have been catastrophic: the loss of hundreds of thousands of American lives, hospital stays for millions more and lingering disability for a number we can’t yet calculate. They are as much victims of the ideology of personal freedom as of the virus itself. Anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers (usually but not always the same people) could choose to stay home so as not to endanger others by their choices, and perhaps some do. But many claim a right to go where they please, be served in whatever businesses they wish to frequent and send their children unmasked to schools that they insist must be open. COVID-19 is not the only example of the damage that ensues when a large segment of society elevates the rights of individuals over obligations to society. Second Amendment absolutism has led to the peculiar result that the right to own a gun is valued more highly in law than the right not to be killed by one. I would argue that the refusal on the part of a […]

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