The Meaning of Freedom (The Rights of the Individual vs. The Common Good)


Although Americans tend to take their freedom for granted the close attention that we’ve been paying of late to what is going on in other countries likeIranandHondurasmight allow us to better appreciate what our rights are as a Society. One of the most relevant facts about our freedom is the right of the individual to be heard and attended to by courts of law as prescribed by our Constitution. However, what about the rights of the “whole” … otherwise known as “the common good?” Should individuals supersede what is good for the Society as a whole?

An individual who does not believe in a God can literally stop school children from singing “God BlessAmerica” or removing the saying “In God We Trust” from our currencies. Self-interest groups can serve their own needs and coffers while large groups might suffer as a result. An example might be how pharmaceutical companies can regulate prices on certain drugs to the point of those needing them not being able to afford the cost. We can rationalize much of this type of activity by citing the benefits of competition and the free market. But is it really free or could there be some prejudicial elements contained in these examples. “I want what I want when I want it … and I want it NOW!” Have we become selfish and have we come to abuse our basic right of individual freedom?

The common good provides a structure for our Society that allows it to continue to function in a manner that provides a functional safety network for its members. It recognizes the fact that the rights of the individual must be upheld but not at the expense of the common good. Unquestionably, all cannot be satisfied in our social network but if the common good becomes the norm and accepted by members of that network, there is a principle by which we can live without the disgruntlement that tends to prevail when we don’t get what we want when we want it. And our maturity, which is based in our ability to postpone pleasure, allows us to withstand and realize that we can’t “have it now.”

Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at

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