Free to Form Associations

Manila Bulletin, July 22, 2004 | Go to article overview

Free to Form Associations


IN a free and open society, such as ours, the fundamental laws recognize and protect the natural rights that we are supposed to enjoy because they flow from the very fact of our being persons invested with dignity. Among these natural rights is that of associating with others and forming an association with them. This particular right underscores the social nature of persons: we are made up so as to depend on others and relate with them.

The natural right of association is for the progress that every one of us must strive for and benefit from. And progress is much easier to achieve if pursued in tandem with others, rather than if each one of us tries to move on our own in relative isolation from others. Together with others we can achieve so much more; all alone by our lonesome self we would find it much harder. The interdependence we find in modern society, with all its complications and difficulties, brings us all to a much higher level than the isolation of a Robinson Crusoe.

We should never forget that progress is multi-faceted. It is not limited to the material aspect. It extends to the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual aspects as well. Indeed, we find ourselves associating with peers and colleagues, with similar interests and backgrounds, in pursuit of common goals. Study clubs, schools of thought, and professional organizations foster intellectual and professional exchanges, which can be productive of newer insights and perspectives as well as of higher levels of knowledge and expertise. Similarly, cultural centers and associations of specialists focused on various fields of culture are set up and organized to foster a flowering of different forms of cultural expression. Then there are many different spiritual movements, which different types of charisms may give rise to and sustain. In all of these, we enjoy the freedom of choice, although we all get the impetus to become part of any association that can help us develop and achieve some or all aspects of personal progress. …

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Free to Form Associations
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