Balancing Responsibility & Liberty: The Yin & Yang of Public Policy

This is the text of the talk that I gave at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson (UUCT) on July 30, 2017. (Watch the video here.)

Rep. Pamela Powers HannleyOur lives are made up of the choices we make. Although they range from the mundane to the profound, all of our choices bundled together determine balance or imbalance in our lives. Taoist philosophers believed that to lead a happy and tranquil life, one must live in balance with the forces of nature—the yin and the yang, the female and male, the good and evil.

In her book, Envisioning a New World, UU Rev. Rosemarie Carnarius applies the concept of balancing yin and yang to public policy. She suggests that we should try to consciously balance social responsibility—the yin—with individual liberty—the yang. It sounds so simple yet so profound. Like the Tao.

Carnarius goes on to point out that with the our country’s Declaration of Independence, “… for the first time in history, an individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was proclaimed as divinely ordained, unassailable, and constitutionally guaranteed.” A huge step for the common man.

Also, lest our new country devolve into the lawlessness of unbridled individualism, the framers of the Constitution balanced “the ascendency of the individual” with a “trust in humanity’s capacity for self-governance.”

Democracy—the voice of the people—would balance the rights of the individual.

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