Letters to the Editor


The antithesis of freedom can be the laws that restrict freedom or the lack of laws that coordinate and enable freedom. Without some laws and obedience to them, there is only chaos and conversely there is no freedom within laws that are controlling. Where we stand in a society and where one’s society stands between those two extremes determines our freedom. Extreme examples of controlled societies are ants and bees where every individual is controlled with robotic precision. In human societies a person’s freedom can be defined as a person’s permitted actions within the rules/laws of that society. Using this definition of freedom, a person in a dictatorship can have more freedom than a person in a democracy and in our country those with greater wealth have greater opportunities and freedoms than those without it. In any case the first step in one’s freedom is to learn the rules of the society and what is permitted. The second step is to learn to use and to operate within those permitted limits of freedom. The next step and the true limit of one’s freedom is in the third step, which is the ability to write and change the rules/laws for one’s self and for the society. That is the true societal difference.

In a rigid society there is no freedom to change the rules; in a dictatorship only the dictator has that freedom and in a democracy the people (the majority) have that freedom. In the City of Lake Geneva, the nine elected members of the City Council have been entrusted with that freedom and authority to change the city’s rules, laws and determine permitted behavior within the city. Their authority is only restricted by county, state, federal, constitution and natural laws. The City Council’s true success is not in what they build or spend, but whether the residents (which is the city) are better or worse off because of what the City Council members do and that can only be known with certainty from the perspective of time. For often what appears good (like candy) given time causes things to rot and decay. The same issue of freedom applies within groups, organizations and even within families. The best authorities give direction and share as much of their authority and responsibility with other as the others can properly handle and remove it when it is misused; whereas, the worst authorities continue to hold or gather all authority under themselves for themselves.

As to what the new City Council will be like — time will tell.

Terry O’Neill, former alderperson and current activist

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