Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Finding a balance between freedom and privacy

Checks and balances. Freedom and privacy. These are words that we all know well. We have seen time and time again in history books to describe various parts of the United States government.

However, they have another significance. If you look again, you will see that the United States of America is built upon them.

The morals that the United States is founded upon are the rights to freedom and privacy and are among the many unalienable rights that have been granted to us.

When we were teenagers enjoying the freedom of our youth, one thing that we all demanded was the freedom from the ever-watching eyes of our parents. But with the right to freedom, there is the right to privacy.

Although we demanded to be the sole decision-makers in our lives, our parents were watching over us -‘- and with good reason. That is because freedom and privacy cannot exist without a system of checks and balances.

The four words are so simple yet so powerful. How did we build a society upon the concepts of these words?

It is a question that we still ask today ‘- one that reflects the very society that we live in. It is a question being asked in Andover, Mass., after the death of a 16-year-old girl that occurred following an unsupervised teen party.

Elizabeth Mun died after falling into a frozen pond after leaving a party at which alcohol may have been present.

Mun’s death was an unnecessary one. It could have been prevented.

Several questions must be asked. Why was the party unsupervised? Was there alcohol? Why didn’t a friend take her home or, at the very least, prevent her from leaving the party alone? Was Mun’s death a freaky and tragic accident in which she just happened to fall into a body of water?

In this case, it looks like there was an excess of freedom and privacy and a shortage in checks and balances.

So the question must be asked, where do you check and where do you balance? Is there a clear cut answer to that question?

I am not one who claims to know the answer, but I do know that we must be more aware of our surroundings in order to maintain human life.

We have a tendency to complain that there are too many rules in this world. However most of the world’s wrongs and crimes occur due to the fact that the rules have not been enforced.

Though crime and neglectful tragedies are inevitable, I believe that by providing a lax system for our youth, we are ultimately sacrificing our ability to care for others.

We rightfully grant teenagers a degree of freedom by allowing them to make their own decisions. However we neglect the fact that they are only teenagers and are not mature adults with years of decision-making experience under their belts.

That being said, the system of checks and balances is one that must be used by all. It is not a system that is only to be used by worried parents but instead by all in society.

This tragedy is only a small reflection of problems that society has as a whole.

Thousands die too young every year by unnecessary causes. This is reflected in the statistics put out each year documenting deaths caused by drunk driving, parties involving massive amounts of alcohol and crime in general.

These problems are a result of the fact that there was not someone there to watch over them. They were either not cared about enough or given too much freedom.

Too often we excuse this problem. We hide it behind the rationale of that these are the brutal facts of life. What many fail to see is that these things can be changed. The world lives on the fresh air of change. If we change, so will those around us.

What we need to do is to be able to care about one another without sacrificing our freedom. This does not involve a high-wire act of tracking someone with a GPS system. Rather, this simply involves taking care of each other, such as driving a friend home if they have had one too many drinks. That alone would save many lives.

< p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt; line-height: 150%">So this brings us back to the tragic story of Elizabeth Mun. Should there have been parental supervision? I think there should have been.

Should there be more checks and balances within human society? Where is this fine line between the concepts of freedom and privacy?

After you read this article, think about how valuable a human life is. Is one person’s life worth the cost of change? Think on it and make your own decision.

Matt Kushi is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].—

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