Agency and accountability are words with which members of the Church are familiar. It is interesting to be discussing them in an American Foundations class. They really are, though, at the heart of what happened when the colonists began to revolt.
Given agency by our Creator, it is an innate desire of all men. We want to make choices for ourselves. Accountability comes into play when our agency to choose interferes with another person’s rights. All choices have consequences, good or bad. When we exercise our agency, we must be accountable and deal with whatever the consequences are. Laws are put in place to force some people to be accountable for their choices because they won’t do so otherwise.
I really appreciated how Dallin H. Oaks, a former Utah Supreme Court Judge, distinguished between Agency and Freedom.
Agency is how we exercise our will and our power to choose.
Freedom is the privilege to carry out our choices.
Everyone has agency. Most people in the world don’t have freedom.
Dallin H. Oaks, “Free Agency and Freedom,” 1987