If I could get a degree in “Reverse Engineering”, I’d graduate with honors. My maxim could be “If it ain’t broke, take it apart to figure out why not”; and that’s not limited to mechanical things. I dissect songs, stories, art, religion and even sociological norms to examine them to see what makes them work, or not work.
Have you ever seen a structure collapse? The failure can usually be traced to a couple of causes 1) the foundation becomes compromised and can no longer carry the structure, or 2) the structure becomes weakened or over-burdened to the point it can no longer support itself. Sometimes, both these causes combine to bring a structure down. Frequent inspections can identify the first signs of a loss of structural integrity.
I’ve been “inspecting” the foundational documents of our country; the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. While avoiding lengthy discourse where there just is not the space, one word in the above sentence has been gnawing at my “take it apart” tendencies. “Rights”. That word is really bugging me. Exactly what are “rights”? Are am I on the “Left” or the “Right”? I’m left handed so is that “wrong” since it’s not “right handed”?
While looking at the word “rights” from several angles, I learned rights give you the ability to have or get something or behave is some particular way based on some legal or moral authority. Synonyms to the word “rights” are: entitlement, prerogative, privilege, advantage, due, liberty, authority, power, license, permission, dispensation, leave, sanction and freedom. I read through those and all sorts of “caution markers” started popping up in my head. The troubling thing about those synonyms is, they all infer “rights” are given by men or women to other men and women on the basis of some legislated legality, some social norm or an ethical expectation or belief. Rules made by men.
Let’s look back at the example of structural collapse. If the rights are only as good as the pillars holding them up are strong….do you see where I’m going here? Take away the protections; remove a particular belief or behavior from the approved list of social norms; legislate away a long-held practice; all in the name of socially acceptable democracy, aka “mob rule”. In that case, does voting for a right make it right if the proposed right is wrong? Is the narcissistic pursuit of personally defined rights alienating our neighbors, violating their rights and destroying the foundations of our nation?
It can be difficult to defend or even respect another person’s “rights” when those rights infringe on your “rights”. But, then again, who gives you the right not to? Some people speak of their “God given rights”. I couldn’t find specified rights in my Bible, but I found plenty of references to what IS right; paradigms that are naturally right – those that are not dependent on the laws or customs of any culture or government; natural laws. For something to be “natural”, it must have an origin independent of human manipulation; a Creator. If we believe nature is good, we must also believe natural laws are good. To guarantee everyone their rights, we need only to follow those laws.
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