Many people think that freedom is defined as “doing what I want.” Well, not exactly. Freedom is defined as “the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or do that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility.” 1 So, when a person does what he/she wants, without regard for anyone else, that is not freedom. That is selfishness. Freedom comes with responsibility to act in accordance with the common good.
Freedom Comes with Responsibility
Let’s take this whole “wearing a mask” debate, as an example. Some people choose to wear a mask; others choose not to wear a mask. Those opting not to wear a mask say that it is their right to not do so. That is a true statement. Such an opinion is valid. Those who opt to wear a mask state that they do so for health reasons; to protect themselves and others from the spread of the coronavirus. This, too, is a true statement. Such an opinion is also valid. So, how might “freedom” impact this “wearing a mask” debate?
Exercising Freedom versus Exercising Selfishness
Those who elect to wear a mask, make their decision, rooted in reason and will, based upon scientific data and advice from experts. They place the welfare of the common good ahead of their own desires. The mask wearers take responsibility in the exercise of their freedom. Now, those who elect not to wear a mask base their decision on emotion, politics, etc. They place their own desires ahead of the common good. The non-mask wearers place themselves and others in danger of contracting the potentially deadly coronavirus.
One can apply this evaluation of decision-making to a wide assortment of debates. To arrive at the correct use of one’s freedom, base your decision on reason and will, not emotional or political persuasion. Let the Holy Spirit give you His error-free advice. Then act in accordance with His will. Oh, and wear a mask!
1 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 1997. Print. par. 1731.
If you would like to purchase an autographed copy of my book, Adventures of Faith, Hope and Charity: Finding Patience, then click here.