by Liz Arnold, Chair of the Nevada Women’s Leadership Alliance
Freedom is a dichotomy, a right AND a responsibility. It requires people with honor, respect, and integrity to flourish. Honor for the privilege it affords, respect for the those enforcing the rule of law, and citizens who do the right thing even when no is watching. It requires leaders to lead by example, take extreme ownership of their own behavior, and fully understand their conduct in office or managing employees is a reflection of their behavior.
Our system depends upon it.
Too many people act like freedom means you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, to whomever want, and all that matters in life is what they want right now, no matter who it hurts. But morals are not fungible, integrity is vital, honor must be cherished, and social media is not more important that real life.
There are too many monsters who steal, assault, and destroy property with impunity. Yet when caught, they are frequently let go almost immediately. This is dreadfully wrong.
Consider, for example, cities in total melt down from crime, environmental decay, open defecation, rampant addiction, expanding homelessness, and physical and moral decay. Leadership in those places are either corrupt, incompetent, or blindly continue to support clearly detrimental policies. From leaders in failed big cities to our President or Congress on down to small town mayors, when leaders ignore their own failures and do not take ownership of the impact of their poor decisions, they disrespect those they serve. When those leaders look in the mirror, they do not see the behavior of their citizens staring back at them. But they should. They shrug it off as ho hum, just another day America.
The root of the problem is clear. When elected officials or others in leadership positions in business or institutions act immorally and irresponsibly, citizens mirror that behavior back at them in ways they do not expect. Strong, smart leaders understand both their real and their quite power. No one is ever acting alone in a free society. Each action has a ripple effect across the sea of those impacted over time by the behavior of others.
The scales of justice must be in balance with freedom on one side and equal personal responsibility on the other.
Make no mistake, this is not a right or a left-wing dichotomy but a dichotomy of good vs bad people. Freedom is delicate and dependent on people who value personal responsibility in their own lives and expect it in their leaders.
Moral leaders inspire a moral populace. Leaders that are incapable of making decisions from a position of integrity, honor, and morality must be accountable for their actions and those of others whom they have inspired or ignored. We do not have a people problem in America. Instead, we have leadership problem.
We can no longer abide leaders who choose what laws to enforce or ignore as though laws are a bowl of candy.
Humans tend toward selfishness and are complex animals. But macro behavior patterns are simple. You act a fool and others around you will too.
When too many take no responsibility for their own deeds and our government in turn does not enforce the laws they break, our constitution becomes meaningless.
Our founding fathers wrote extensively about individual responsibility, sacred honor, morality, integrity, and equality under law. Therefore, I argue, the freedom they gave us is, indeed, a right and a responsibility.