Thursday, June 5, 2008

Rights and Responsibility

The freedom to pursue one’s values carries with it the responsibility to accept the consequences of those actions. This seems to be lost on many zoning advocates.

A right pertains to action and the consequences of that action. It is not a guarantee that one’s actions will be successful. It simply means that one may act without intervention from others and reap the reward or suffer the consequences of those actions.

Many home owners are now regretting the consequences of their decisions (such as those in Southampton and Boulevard Oaks in regard to the Ashby High Rise). They purchased a home in an area that either lacks deed restrictions, or has become better suited for other uses. In response, they seek to use government coercion to stop the rightful property owner from using his property as he chooses.

In short, they want the City government to protect them from their own decisions. Absolving themselves of responsibility for their own choices, they now seek to limit the choices of others. They fail to understand the implications of their desire to limit the choices and actions of others.

First, if they can limit the choices and actions of others, then other people have the same right to limit their choices and actions. Some may find it acceptable to have their personal freedom limited, but they have no right or moral justification to impose that view upon others.

Second, if they are not to be held accountable for their bad decisions, then they cannot rationally expect to reap the rewards of their good decisions. If an individual is to be absolved of responsibility, it pertains to all actions, not just those that don’t work out.

Third, if the government is to protect us from the consequences of our decisions then we grant to government absolute power. Every realm of life could be controlled under such a premise.

Fourth, despite the wide spread (and justified) distrust of politicians, some individuals seek to grant additional powers to those same politicians. Apparently the hypocrisy of such a position is lost on such individuals.

Life presents us with a multitude of choices, and many of our options are not good for us. If we desire freedom, then we have the responsibility to make informed decisions. And we also have the responsibility to accept the consequences of bad decisions.

An individual who seeks to relinquish responsibility for the consequences of his actions is ultimately seeking to relinquish the option to decide for himself. He seeks to allow others to decide for him. This alone is morally reprehensible. That he often seeks to impose this degradation upon others reveals the monstrous nature of his soul.

© J. Brian Phillips 2008

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