Personal Freedom vs. Public Health: Where Do We Draw the Line?

Personal Freedom vs. Public Health: Where Do We Draw the Line?

( – The coronavirus brought along more consequences than just health concerns. Americans witnessed unprecedented transformations in their daily lives. Some of these changes have sparked controversies, exposing conflicting interests between personal freedoms and public health concerns.

Anyone who may have been exposed to the virus or had shown symptoms of the disease was told to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days. Entire countries around the world were placed under quarantine due to COVID-19, not to mention travel restrictions were put in place. Schools throughout the US shut down during the outbreak in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. “Social distancing” quickly became the name of the game and “containment zone” was suddenly a household phrase.

However, while these actions were taken to keep the American public as safe as possible, they also brought into question why so many personal freedoms were seemingly being tossed out the window.

Such questions include:

  • Does the government have the right to restrict American citizens in this way?
  • What about our Constitutional rights?
  • While US citizens are guaranteed freedoms that those in some other places around the globe can only dream of, do these rights supersede the good of the public as a whole?

Not Everyone Likes to Take Orders

Plenty of people weren’t impressed by the “new world order” type of reaction that the coronavirus instigated in the United States. For the most part, Americans are used to doing what they want, where they want, when they want, how they want. That’s what makes our country great.

But, when lives are at stake, things change. Yes, our freedoms are important. American citizens won’t give up their individual liberty so easily. Yet, we all have a responsibility to one another when it comes to public health threats.

We saw similar changes to our rights and freedoms following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Like the World Trade Center attacks, the coronavirus outbreak is another defining moment in American history. How we choose to react right now will have profound consequences in the near future.

Benefits to the Public

By temporarily sacrificing some of our personal freedoms, we can protect the most vulnerable people in our society. As Americans, we owe it to our fellow citizens to keep the greater good in mind when we make choices during any type of crisis. These are the kinds of lessons that we learn in difficult times. When the safety of the public is at risk, we must do what we can to minimize risks to everyone, not just ourselves.

Unfortunately, that sometimes means we shouldn’t exercise our freedoms in the way we are used to. Whether it be submitting to extra screening at the airport to prevent terrorist acts or canceling all large gatherings in the wake of a viral outbreak, the goal is the same: keep Americans safe.

Should we allow our rights to be stripped away without a second thought? Absolutely not. However, when our country faces a national crisis, we must do what is best for the American public as a whole.

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