The freedoms that the nation will celebrate on this Independence Day weekend are powerful. They are most powerful when Americans use them together.
To fix the looming problems it faces in 2021, America must engage the democratic processes and the freedoms won when it revolted against Britain’s monarchical oppression and economic inequality.
Freedom comes in two flavors: freedom-to and freedom-from. Desire for the latter kind dominates, but it is entirely dependent on the first.
For example, the desire for freedom from COVID-19 tops America’s freedom wish list this year. We won’t get it until more of us stop using our freedom to reject vaccines and use our individual freedom to choose to get vaccinated.
Westerners want freedom from wildfires. The last thing any place in the West needs in this horrible drought is another summer of infernos. The Sun Valley area has had three large wildfires in 14 years, which is three too many. Locally, there are bans in place prohibiting outdoor fires, private fireworks, outdoor smoking near flammable materials and exploding targets because fire danger is extreme. Only by restraining our freedom to celebrate will we stop the tinder from becoming an inferno.
Freedom from holiday traffic deaths is also on the wish list. Three people died in local highway accidents in the last two weeks. Our freedom to choose patience and caution while driving can prevent them.
Freedom from power outages ranks high in importance this year, with air-conditioning units operating overtime in this record-breaking heat wave. Idaho Power has asked customers to choose to reduce power use between 4 and 9 p.m. to ease pressure on the electrical system. Choosing to do this will help keep everyone cool and healthy.
Drought and climate change are instilling a strong desire for freedom from the threat of water shortages. Flows to many irrigators have already been cut off even though it is still early in the growing season. Cities are looking closely at how much water they can supply to domestic users. We may be free to consume but choosing to conserve is a better option.
In 1776, the revolutionary demand for direct democracy was a lot to bite off and more than 200 years later it’s still not clear if it will continue to work.
If we Americans enlist our freedoms-to in the service of realizing freedoms-from, we can solve the great problems facing us. That is cause for celebration.
Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.
“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to email@example.com.