Monday, August 17, 2009

Rights vs. Responsibilities

As I have recently been accused of being a "tree hugger" (see the buffalo story below), I was reminded of the new science czar for the BO administration. As previously noted, this guy has wanted to extend rights to trees. We hear a lot about the "animal rights" groups and how every little form of animal needs to be protected, no matter the expense, the loss, or the inconvenience; but rights for trees...what is this guy thinking?

I started thinking about "rights" and what they are and who has them and what justifies someone or something having a right. Then, it dawned on me, along with a "right" comes a responsibility. The Declaration of Independence (DOI) includes the statement, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In thinking of these three rights, our right to life is given to us by God and we have a responsibility to God to live that life pleasing to Him and a responsibility to protect and defend human life. With the right to liberty comes the responsibility to defend and protect that freedom. And the right to pursue happiness makes OUR happiness OUR responsibility. The DOI did not give us a guarantee that we would always have these rights, no matter what we did. It laid out, as a reminder, that God has given us these rights and as long as we fulfill the responsibilities that accompany each of them, we will continue to enjoy them. If we cease to fulfill our responsibility for any of them, we will forfeit that right. Whomever assumes the right that we forfeited, assumes the responsibility that goes along with that right.

If we want liberty or freedom, we must be always ready to defend and protect that freedom. If we do not perform this responsibility, we will lose our freedom. At that point, whatever entity that has assumed responsibility for our freedom is awarded the right to make the calls as to what freedom or liberties we will experience. Once we cease to carry the responsibility, we lose control over that portion of our lives.

Our society has deemed a lot of various things to be "rights". According to them, we have a right to own a home. We have a right to health care. We have a right to... Many of these so-called rights, are not rights at all. When a politician tries to get the public stirred up over something that we do not have, but he tells us it is a right that we should possess, be very careful about what you believe. You are probably being manipulated.

There are different kinds of rights, natural (or God given) rights and legal rights. God did not give me the right to vote in elections, that is a legal right. It is also a legal right that I can expect the police to arrest and the courts to punish someone who commits a crime against me. We come to take some of these rights for granted as they not only make sense but they are the law of the land and we have grown to trust that they will be there.

Our Constitution lays out other legal rights ("Bill of Rights" sound familiar?). God did not say that we have a right to keep and bear arms, the primary law of the land has given us that right. There are those in our government who want to take many of these granted rights away from us. Under our Constitution and Judicial system, the groundwork is in place for us to keep our rights, as long as we work at defending them. If we do not defend them, they will continue to be whittled away until some day they do not exist at all.

The NRA is a good example of an organization that works to defend our Second Amendment rights. Some look at the actions of the NRA and think they are going too far. Why defend the right to have an assault rifle? Why would we need one? The reason is the assault against our right to have an assault rifle is just another shaving carved off of the post that began as the tree of the right to keep and bear arms. There are those who are tuning up their chain saws as they see an opportunity to cut that tree down once and for all. Once it is a stump, it will never grow back.

So, does a tree have "rights"? That can be answered by asking what responsibilities the tree must fulfill in order to maintain those rights? If a tree has no responsibilities, it has no rights.

Do animals have "rights"? I will let you think that one through as this issue is not the purpose of this posting.

As citizens of the United States, we have assumed the responsibilities that accompany certain rights. It seems that from the beginning of our nation, there have been those men and women who have desired to gain more control over us and our lives. As long as we understand what our rights are, realize that we are each responsible for maintaining those rights, are vigilant to protect those rights, we will continue to enjoy those rights. As soon as we give up any of those steps, we begin to lose those rights. If we stop learning and teaching about our rights, we will not understand the importance of each of them. If we give the responsibility for those rights to someone else, they will decide the extent we enjoy those rights. When we cease to believe that our rights are worth fighting for, we will no longer have them as there are those ready to grab them away from us as soon as we loosen our grip.

Men covet power and control over other men. That is a fact and a way of life that must be guarded against at all times. Why we can't just all get along, I don't know, but we can't. If you let your guard down, someone will be there to take advantage of you and leave you in a weakened condition. Our rights are OUR RIGHTS! They do not belong to someone else. If we do our part, they cannot be taken from us. To lose them, we must give them up.

Our problem is that we have grown lazy. We want and even expect others to do the responsibilities that accompany our rights. I can only enjoy my right to Life to it's fullest, if I am willing and ready to die for it. I will not appreciate and enjoy my liberty if I am only willing to send someone else to defend it. I may not be a soldier on the front line in defending our nation, but I must be a soldier on the front line in defending my right to liberty against those who covet control over me. We expect other people or equipment to be the source of our happiness. We will not be happy if we do not take responsibility for finding true happiness in our own lives.

Being self-responsible positions yourself to claim your rights. When you depend on the government, that means that you are holding them responsible for taking care of some area of your life. You have then surrendered some portion of your rights to the government. Think of all the people in government as a larger version of dust mites. Have you ever watched an enlargement of a bunch of dust mites? They are going around consuming everything around them. Our government is somewhat like that. They are always there, always ready to grab away from you any little portion of your rights that you drop along the way. They will jump on it and consume it so that you will never see it again. The more they consume, the bigger they get and the more powerful they become. As we neglect to be on guard over our rights, we are being lulled to sleep so that we do not even notice that the mites have eaten away at another one of our dwindling rights.

If you truly do have a "right" to health care, then you must have the responsibility for providing it. The politician tells you that you have that right but they will be nice and take the responsibility for providing it for you. Presto - you have just given up control over another portion of your life and surrendered more of you rights.

1 comment:

  1. You say it all very well. As far as health care goes, I really think everyone ought to have access to it, but that everyone should also understand that what they get they will need to pay for, not expect anyone else to foot the bill. It's like anything else in the world, it's available to you, but it usually costs something. Don't see why people expect it to be any different with their health care or why peopel are less willing to foot the bill for something that might be so important as to save their life one day.