John Balentine fixates on the “F-word” – not that one, but “freedom.” (“Do you still desire freedom?”, July 2).

As a Republican, he believes freedom is bestowed only upon individuals, rather than a “collective right” shared by all citizens. In “The Social Contract,” Rousseau writes “… a society by means of a contract among themselves.” Balentine strangely alludes to this citizens’ compact, noting the Declaration of Independence signers were willing to give “… our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor,” not my life, my fortune and my sacred honor.

Balentine’s concept of individual freedom parallels his opinion that America is  “… the greatest country ever known to man.” Ideally, yes. However, America ranks in the top 10 countries with the highest wealth inequality, ranks 14th in education and 37th in health care. Why?

Many Republicans, also fixated on individual freedom, only appear to support legislation which benefits the individual, rather than all of society. Indeed, Balentine believes “… The American government … exists to keep the individual free, not to rule over them.” Really? The signers’ original concept of democracy was always defined “… by means of a contract among” all members, not with individuals, of a society.

G. B. Shaw observed: “Youth is wasted on the young.” After perusing Balentine’s opinion piece, Shaw could write: Selfishness, lack of empathy and absence of thought are not wasted on Mr. Balentine.

Why? How many lives were saved from COVID-19 by government officials who honored the true meaning of collective (not individual) freedom by implementing lockdowns and mandating social distancing protocols to protect all citizens.

On lockdowns, Balentine states “… how easily we’re willing to give up our freedoms for a false sense of security.” False sense of security – really? Mr. Balentine, how many lives were saved by implementing said lockdown(s)? Still obsessed with individual freedom?

John M. Mishler