Sally White: Where freedom ends

Santa Clarita Valley residents celebrate Fourth of July during 2016 parade.
Santa Clarita Valley residents celebrate Fourth of July during 2016 parade. Signal file photo

I attended a public elementary school in San Diego during WWII. Among the excellent teachers who still have a fond place in my memory was Lila Dickson, who was my teacher in both fifth and sixth grades.

She kept us up to date on what was going on in the world, and at that time not much of it was very good. She also taught us about how our government worked and about our responsibilities as citizens.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned in those years was this: “My freedom ends where the other person’s freedom begins.”

During those school days she taught us how that concept was violated when some students, while standing in line, chose to take more space than others – and accomplished this with a push. They did not show respect for the freedom of their fellow students to also have space.

This concept of freedom also worked well when California residents decided to limit where people could smoke. Ergo, my right to smoke ended when my smoke reached your nostrils.

And when we, as a people, decided that the noise created by automobiles with fancy but noisy engines, as well as those with thunderous sound systems, would not be allowed on the streets. Their freedom to make noise ended when my freedom to have reasonable quietness began.
This seems like a very simple concept, and it can be applied in ever so many ways from the close and personal to the local, state, national, and even at planetary levels.

For example, should businesses, large or small, be allowed to pollute the water, air or ground in such a way that it becomes unusable or otherwise dangerous for you and me? Should developers be allowed to build more homes than a community can support in terms of water availability, clean air supply, and a satisfactory quality of life for current residents?
The Fourth of July is a splendid time to think on these things as this holiday always initiates a great deal of discussion about our freedoms – what they are and their importance.

As we engage in conversations about freedom during this holiday, let us give thought to the idea of where freedoms are located as we remember our freedom ends where the other person’s freedom begins.

Freedom is, indeed, a two way street!


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