Article 29

(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

There has always been a curious dance between individual liberty and community responsibility. These are not mutually exclusive ideas, but they are often at odds. Sometimes the individual can thrive when the community allows him to, or the community can benefit greatly from a strong individual. Still, it is the rare person whose wants and needs never conflict with those of their neighbors.

In all likelihood the struggle to balance these needs will never be completely settled, but Declaration, along with our own Constitution and the Constitutions of most Industrialized Democracies, reflect an honest attempt to resolve this. Have we fallen down? Have we failed to live up to our high ideas? Have we even ignored them in the name of base desire? The answer to all those questions is yes, but that does not mean we should give up on our attempts to find a more perfect harmony between the one and the many.

At best giving up on solving that question is a sad admission of weakness. At worst it is opening the door to chaos and pain. When the individual is lost to the community we lose the very things that make being human special. When the community is forgotten in the chase for individual gain, despotism takes root. Neither is a very appealing outcome. We may never have the answers, but the search for them is a necessary endeavor just the same.


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