Civic responsibility vs. HOA member responsibility.

To whom does a member of an HOA owe his loyalty?  To the constitutional government or to the HOA?   I raise this question because of the general apathy and strident defense of their HOA by many HOA members.

The inescapable conclusion is that the vast majority of the members do not care if they are governed by private, contractual corporations functioning outside constitutional government. When faced with solid evidence of violations of the law or governing documents they get highly defensive of their HOA board of directors.  It seems quite obvious that these individuals have forsaken their civic responsibilities and duties for HOA member responsibilities and rights.

Now I am sure that these individuals are good people believing that they are doing good for their community –  the HOA – and therefore good for the people in the town, state and country.  With this belief, they do  not understand that putting the HOA first damages their duties to the community at large, the town, the state and the country.

Let me explain why.  As citizens[i] of our state and country we have civic responsibilities that consist of our  “actions and attitudes associated with democratic governance and social participation.”[ii]

“The importance of civic responsibility is paramount to the success of democracy and philanthropy. By engaging in civic responsibility, citizens ensure and uphold certain democratic values written in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Those values or duties include justice, freedom, equality, diversity, authority, privacy, due process, property, participation, truth, patriotism, human rights, rule of law, tolerance, mutual assistance, self-restraint and self-respect.[iii]

The Preamble to the Constitution says it clearly: “to establish justice”, “promote the general welfare,” and “secure the blessings of liberty.”  And what does the HOA “constitution,” the CC&Rs, stand for? Essentially,  maintaining property values and enforcing the governing documents. Since it is a contract, we can only look to the authority and responsibilities as stated in the contract, and we cannot ascribe  any part of the Preamble objectives to the CC&Rs.  Under the contract they have no such obligations to be just, fair and a good community member to oppose wrong-doings by the Board.

The choice then falls onto each member to choose to follow his conscience either as a public citizen or as a HOA member citizen.  CAI’s public policy on Rights and Responsibilities says nothing about being a good public citizen. “Good associations preserve the character of their communities, protect property values and meet the established expectations of property owners and homeowners.[iv]  A member who defends his HOA when it has clearly violated the law or governing documents is rejecting his obligations as a public citizen.

Why does this occur? Well, for several reasons including indoctrination into a view of HOA-Land totally devoid of constitutional issues and its values, principles and objectives. This indoctrination creates a false mindset that helps to create a person’s self-image.[i]  Human nature being as it is, a person’s self-image will protect the person from harm.  Your self-image is basically who you are, what you stand for and what you believe in.  It can only change when a new self-image is adopted and substituted for the old image, making the person “whole” again —  a good person again.

Another aspect of human nature that plays on the member’s self-image is the need for approval and validation (the member’s feelings, attitudes and opinions are worthwhile).  The HOA indoctrination program plays to these needs by setting the criteria for approval – homeowners must obey the rules and maintain community spirit – and validation – praise for attending meetings and hearings and supporting the HOA Board.

Understand that the members can change their misguided view that their HOA is governed by angels and can therefore do no wrong.  All that they must do is to listen to the facts and evidence that would be seen as wrongful behavior if conducted with respect to non-HOA issues.

Good citizens, as stated herein, will recognize the need for change to maintain a healthy self-image and restore constitutional government within HOA-Land.

 

References

[i]Fostering a Positive Self-Image,” ClevelandClinic.org.  “Self-image is the personal view, or mental picture, that we have of ourselves. Self-image is an “internal dictionary” that describes the characteristics of the self”; “is a product of learning”; “is important because how we think about ourselves affects how we feel about ourselves and how we interact with others and the world around us”; is not permanently fixed. Part of our self-image is dynamic and changing. We can learn to develop a healthier and more accurate view of ourselves”.

Good citizens, as stated herein, will recognize the need for change to maintain a healthy self-image and restore constitutional government within HOA-Land.

By: George K. Staropoli, GKS256@nyu.edu.

References

[i]Civic Responsibility,” Jennifer Self, Learningtogive.org, “A citizen is ‘a person owing loyalty to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state or union.’ Citizenship means ‘a productive, responsible, caring and contributing member of society.'”

[ii] Id., “The importance of civic responsibility is paramount to the success of democracy and philanthropy. By engaging in civic responsibility, citizens ensure and uphold certain democratic values written in the founding documents and uphold certain democratic values written in the founding.”

[iii] Supra n. i.

[iv]Rights and Responsibilities for Better Communities,” CAI Public Policy 2011. Feb. 19,2019.

[v]Fostering a Positive Self-Image,” ClevelandClinic.org.  “Self-image is the personal view, or mental picture, that we have of ourselves. Self-image is an ‘internal dictionary’ that describes the characteristics of the self’; ‘is a product of learning’; ‘is important because how we think about ourselves affects how we feel about ourselves and how we interact with others and the world around us’; is not permanently fixed;  Part of our self-image is dynamic and changing. We can learn to develop a healthier and more accurate view of ourselves”.

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