Americans spend a great deal of time talking about our rights, but very little about our responsibilities. Yet as the Founding Fathers pointed out, the second is crucial to maintaining the first.
It is fitting, therefore, that the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Pa., has drawn up a list of 10 responsibilities of freedom, called "The Bill of Responsibilities." They are designed to go hand-in-hand with the Bill of Rights.To date, five state legislatures, including those in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, have passed joint resolutions adopting the Bill of Responsibilities.
Over two million copies of the bill have been distributed, primarily to teachers and young people. It has also been reprinted in dozens of national publications, including the Boy Scout Handbook.
The preamble suggests that "freedom and responsibility are mutual and inseparable" and that "we can ensure enjoyment of the one only by exercising the other."
The bill includes the following list of ten responsibilities:
- To be fully responsible for our own actions and for the consequences of those actions.
- To respect the rights and beliefs of others.
- To give sympathy, understanding and help to others.
- To do our best to meet our own and our families' needs.
- To respect and obey the laws.
- To respect the property of others, both private and public.
- To share with others our appreciation of the benefits and obligations of freedom.
- To participate constructively in the nation's political life.
- To help freedom survive by assuming responsibility for its defense.
- To respect the rights and to meet the responsibilities on which our liberty rests.
If Americans paid more attention to fulfilling their responsibilities and less time demanding perceived "rights," the country would be better and freer for everyone.