84°F
weather icon Cloudy

We must balance freedom, civic responsibility

Despite the overwhelming consensus of the American professional medical community (including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Nurses Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health) that advocate for COVID-19 vaccination and basic disease prevention behaviors such as mask wearing in public in order to lessen the savage toll of the coronavirus pandemic, some Americans remain skeptical of the necessity, safety and efficacy of these public health measures. Indeed, it is likely that no amount of expert medical advice or corroborative scientific data will convince these skeptics and conspiracy theorists otherwise.

But there is another segment of our society — and Boulder City community — that object to the public health requests, pleas and mandates to get vaccinated and mask up not because they doubt the medical advice and scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of these public health measures, but because they feel that accommodating these requests and mandates threaten their fundamental freedoms as Americans. To these fellow citizens, neighbors and friends, I ask, haven’t patriotic Americans always balanced personal liberties with civic responsibilities for the public good?

As the Greatest Generation can attest, beyond the ultimate sacrifices on the battlefield, noncombatant Americans across the country, and from every walk of life, united in their willingness to forego myriad personal comforts and basic necessities to help the collective effort during the second World War.

Americans, too, have agreed to balance opportunities to amass great personal wealth and accumulate vast private land and resource holdings with collective, civic-oriented projects like our treasured national parks and recreation areas, free public schools and inspirational — almost mythical — public efforts like the Apollo missions to the moon.

And there are other examples of the balance we regularly maintain between our celebrated individual liberties and our collective civic responsibility:

■ Our First Amendment guaranteed freedom of speech does not mean we can spray paint our personal slogans on private or public property.

■ At the end of long Transportation Security Administration lines at the airport, we voluntarily empty our pockets, allow X-ray body scans and surrender our key-chain pocket knives, thus willingly (and momentarily) suspending our Fourth Amendment ensured freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, all in order to protect ourselves and our co-passengers from deadly terrorist attacks in the air.

■ And we understand that while we have a constitutionally protected right to carry a concealed handgun, that right is balanced with efforts to protect public safety by requiring citizens to acquire the necessary permit or license to do so.

Our treasured American freedoms are not absolute. They have always been balanced with the rights of other individuals, and thereby the common, public good. Acknowledging this fact does not foreshadow the end of our constitutionally guaranteed personal liberties. Rather, it reveals a longstanding, fundamental American principle: With great personal freedom comes a dutiful responsibility to ensure the rights and protect the welfare of our fellow citizens as well.

Consequently, our right to refuse mandated COVID-19 vaccination if we work in close quarters with fellow employees or the general public, or to challenge mask requirements for our children in public schools, must similarly be balanced with the rights of others to be reasonably protected from a deadly, infectious pandemic. That is the American way.

The opinions expressed above belong solely to the author and do not represent the views of the Boulder City Review. They have been edited solely for grammar, spelling and style, and have not been checked for accuracy of the viewpoints.

Daniel Benyshek is professor of medical anthropology at UNLV and a proud Boulder City resident.

THE LATEST
Alumni events, marriage and a real Nazi

Ron’s column from a few weeks ago inspired me to tell a story about a weird event from my past. Mine is not as exciting as his in that there is no wrestler named Silo Sam. But there is at least one Nazi. And, no, not the current “I disagree with your politics so you are a Nazi” version. An actual card-carrying member of the party.

Las Vegas Veterans’ Memorial to Boulder City?

Veterans’ memorials can be found all over the Silver State. They are well deserved. They honor individuals who served the nation, and also commemorate battles and events regarding the many military anniversaries in Nevada.

City manager bids fond farewell

I may be leaving Boulder City, but it was not an easy decision. From the first time I came in and met the staff and community leaders, I saw a city filled with people who truly care about where they live and work. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to work with some incredible people.

Is the grass always greener?

Many people in the past played a golf game to cement a business deal, didn’t they? They also played golf to socialize. Has Boulder City recognized lessening play on golf courses? Or, from another perspective, what happens when million-dollar homes are placed around our open space golf course with views of the McCullough Mountains? Do fewer people play golf on the Boulder Creek golf course?

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Shakespeare was the man when it came to comedy and tragedy. His ability to make people feel the intense emotions of the characters is still imitated today. The past few months have been filled with a bit of excited anticipation at City Hall as several longtime and high-level employees have found new roles in other acts. I’m here to borrow some Shakespearean lines, the first being from Ophelia, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” (Hamlet)

Me, my brother and Silo Sam

Recently, I’ve been enjoying watching shows on A&E related to professional wrestling back in the earlier days, with profiles on wrestlers I grew up watching as well as classic rivalries.

Let’s talk about the ‘D Word’

OK, as a starting point, I must note that it’s weird to think that I might be writing something that would put me in agreement with the Language Police.

Make a new plan, Stan

A plan is a method for achieving a desirable objective. It’s a program of action, usually memorialized in writing. Plans start with goals and ideas. But ideas alone (even good ones) don’t constitute a plan.

Time to recognize unsung heroes

We have so many functions within the Boulder City Police Department, from school resource officers to road patrol to the detective bureau. The work that they do keeps Boulder City among the “Safest Cities in Nevada” (newhomesource.com, alarm.com) year after year. One unit is the backbone of our public safety response: Public Safety Dispatchers.

Honoring National Public Health Week

In my eight decades of this amazing life, I have worn a great many hats: son, brother, father, major (USAF), grandfather, council member, state representative, state senator.