Absolute freedoms would bring chaos

Written by Brenda Schimke

When did we start to think that freedoms under the Constitution came with no individual responsibility or respect for the rights of others?

Freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly are all under attack in Canada, not because they’re being taken away as the minority would argue, but because these rights are being interpreted as absolutes for some, without any collective responsibility for others.

There is no country or society in the world that has a free-for-all when it comes to the aforementioned rights. Certainly not in communist, totalitarian or illiberal countries where one man or a small group allows few personal rights for the majority.

But in democracies, we have the privilege of many freedoms, but all our freedoms come with personal responsibility, accountability and all have limitations to protect the common good.

It can’t be any other way. If everyone had absolute freedoms, it would be chaos, which today we are witnessing in the United States where fully armed citizens can walk the streets and terrorize or shoot at will.

Even species within the animal kingdom don’t operate with absolute freedoms. They have alpha males or females and a strict hierarchy to ensure survival. Even those that run solo, for example, cheetahs, have strong territorial rules, to maintain their food supply.

So why, today, do humans in democracies like Canada, think they can do their own thing without regard for anyone else?

I have the right to go to school, but I don’t have the right to do or act anyway I want when in school. I have a right to drive, but I don’t have a right to be impaired with drugs or alcohol when behind the wheel. I have the right to freedom of speech, but the courts put limits around hate and libel speech, and my Bible tells me I don’t have the right to lie, mislead, demean or use my speech for harmful purposes.

All rights come with responsibility for not only our own actions, but how those actions impact others.

I have an absolute free right to worship my God in Canada without fear, but during a contagious corona virus outbreak, I also have an obligation to follow the law. If my democratic government enacts rules to curtail community spread of a highly contagious virus—and some of those rules say not to worship in packed sanctuaries, wear a mask or social distance—then I do it not only for myself, but for my neighbour. In my Bible, the second greatest commandment is “Love thy neighbour as thyself”.

Democratic governments have made a huge mistake in not regulating social media platforms. Throughout the history of the free press, government regulations have put a loose fence around the free press to counter untruths, libel and societal harm.

Yet today democratic governments have allowed social media to denigrate science, truth, civil behaviour, government institutions, elections, families and community cohesiveness without any attempt to regulate. It should, therefore, come as no surprise, that a quarter of the population in Canada continue to actively promote Covid in our communities by not following public health guidelines.

When you believe that only you and you alone matter, uncivil behaviour is the logical outcome.

Never, ever have freedoms in Canada come without personal responsibility, accountability and a regard for our neighbours. That’s why we have laws, a constitution and an independent judiciary.

 

Brenda Schimke

ECA Review

About the author

Brenda Schimke

Schimke is a Graduate with Distinction from the University of Alberta with a BCom degree. She has lived and worked in Alberta, BC and Ontario.