Connect with us

Culture and Religion

Rights vs. obligations

Published

on

It seems that we, as a nation have become confused as to the meaning of what a “right” is and is not. People are running around with their hair on fire screaming that they have the “right” to use violence to oppose speech which they find objectionable. They march in protests for the “right” to indiscriminately murder the unborn. Folks are claiming it is their “right” to be taken care of by the government for anything and everything from healthcare to education.

We have an obligation to ourselves and our posterity and to the future of our place in the world. We are better people than pink hats, and foul language. We are more honorable than white sheets and raised fists.

Let’s be clear:

Rights

Definition: (from Merriam-Webster)

1 :qualities (such as adherence to duty or obedience to lawful authority) that together constitute the ideal of moral propriety or merit moral approval

2 :something to which one has a just claim: such as

a :the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled•voting rights
•his right to decide

Rights, as they pertain to American citizenry, are encapsulated in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That’s it. Pretty simple…or one would think. How then, did things become so muddled? How did the simplicity of basic human rights become so bastardized that we become embroiled in the idiocy of whether a football player must stand for a National Anthem or not?

Because, freedom of speech. Which is a right. What a concept. For the sake of clarity, let’s make a simple list. These are a few rights which we, as Americans, enjoy and should comprehend as part of the freedoms we enjoy.

  • You have the right to say, think, write or film whatever is on your mind.
  • You have the right to peaceably protest anyone or anything with which you disagree.
  • You have the right to lawfully purchase and protect personal property.
  • You have the right to marry whomever you wish.
  • You have the right to lawfully keep and bear arms.
  • You have the right to worship how when and where you wish.
  • You have the right to vote for the person of your choice in any election for which you are legally registered.
  • You have the right to choose where you wish to live, which school you wish you or your children will attend, which trade or career you will pursue, and how you manage your health choices.
  • You have the right to use the legal system to seek remedies for wrongful actions under the law.
  • You have the right seek assistance from the government.
  • You have the right to be active and seek change in your community.
  • You have the right to seek happiness in whatever form is lawful.
  • You have the right to be a horrible, terrible, angry, miserable, obstructive, whining bigot. (this is not recommended pursuant to the immediately preceding goal of happiness, however.

This list is not exhaustive and certainly only scratches the very veneer of the many rights we enjoy. Seems straightforward enough, correct? Well……nope.

You see, there are caveats. These are called obligations.

Obligations

Definition (again from Merriam-Webster)

1 :the action of obligating oneself to a course of action (as by a promise or vow)

2 a :something (such as a formal contract, a promise, or the demands of conscience or custom) that obligates one to a course of action•made an obligation to pay their children’s college expenses

b :a debt security (such as a mortgage or corporate bond)

c :a commitment (as by a government) to pay a particular sum of money; also :an amount owed under such an obligation•Unable to meet its obligations, the company went into bankruptcy.

3 a :a condition or feeling of being obligated•felt an obligation to vote

b :a debt of gratitude•returned the favor as an obligation

4 :something one is bound to do :duty, responsibility•countries in which military service is an obligation
•fulfilled their familial obligations

We have all heard the phrase, “freedom isn’t free” or, if you prefer, the scripture, Luke 12:48 “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”

Rights in America are like that. Because we enjoy more rights in the civilized world than any other nation, we are obligated to temper those rights with responsibility. Let’s take another stab at our list…tempered with its corresponding obligations.

  • You have the right to say, think, write or film whatever is on your mind, providing it does not infringe upon another’s right to live without threat of violence to life or pursuit of livelihood. In this category are harmful practices like KKK cross-burning, child pornography, ISIS propaganda etc.
  • You have the right to peaceably protest anyone or anything with which you disagree, but do not have the right to commit violent acts or destruction of property in the name of protest.
  • You have the right to lawfully purchase and protect personal property but do not have the right to commit felonious acts upon said property.
  • You have the right to marry whomever you wish in accordance with state and federal laws.
  • You have the right to lawfully keep and bear arms. Note the keyword here is “lawfully” and that under no circumstances is anyone guaranteed the right to own and use a weapon solely for the use of violence against another.
  • You have the right to worship how when and where you wish, but religious beliefs may not take precedence over what is lawful and in accordance with city, state and federal laws. Tenets which advocate violence are in strict violation of American law.
  • You have the right to vote for the person of your choice in any election for which you are legally registered. Again, note the word, “legally” as it is the only means by which true and fair elections can be certified.
  • You have the right to choose where you wish to live, which school you wish you or your children will attend, which trade or career you will pursue, and how you manage your health choices. In no way is the government either responsible for these choices or at fault for them if an individual makes a poor decision regarding them. This is a true right and the crux of freedom.
  • You have the right to use the legal system to seek remedies for wrongful actions under the law but, are obligated to understand the law and its confines. The law is not an absolute remedy for every situation. Understanding our government, its branches, its authority and its limits is a huge obligation of every citizen.
  • You have the right seek assistance from the government. This assumes that every citizen has done the best he or she can for themselves and has used whatever personal resources available. The government is not a bottomless well from which an individual is entitled to dip from in perpetuity. This has never been it’s intent.
  • You have the right to be active and seek change in your community, but DO NOT have an explicit right to force upon others your personal beliefs, ideaology, morals, or judgement thereby infringing upon their own rights.
  • You have the right to seek happiness in whatever form is lawful. If breaking the law and encroaching upon the rights of others is what makes you happy, you have the right to seek professional help 🙂
  • You have the right to be a horrible, terrible, angry, miserable, obstructive, whining bigot. (this is not recommended pursuant to the immediately preceding goal of happiness, however.) If this is how one intends to exercise their rights, please do so elsewhere. Thanks!

What has been tragically forgotten in the chaos of America in the last couple of years is the beautiful and pure gift of true rights. They have been horrifically abused and assumed as entitlements and grievances and excuses.

Does a football player have a right to kneel for the anthem? Yes. Does a fan have the right to boycott the NFL because of it? Yes. However, the football player also has an obligation to his team and owners and fans to represent his uniform in a positive way. And a fan has an obligation to supporting his team and the traditions of American football. But, really, this is trivial stuff. There is a bigger picture when we are discussing rights vs. obligations.

In an election, voters have the right to vote. They also have the obligation to know the candidate and take that vote seriously. In a protest, the protesters have the right to protest what they believe is an injustice. They also have the obligation to understand the law and the justice system and to respect the rule of law. In a Constitutional Republic such as ours, we all have the right to be involved in our governmental processes, to effect change, to challenge injustice, to bring awareness to wrongdoing. We also have an enormous obligation to do so without further damage and or destruction to the very fabric of our nation.

We have an obligation to ourselves and our posterity and to the future of our place in the world. We are better people than pink hats, and foul language. We are more honorable than white sheets and raised fists. We are wiser than Twitter and Facebook and more loyal than Bradley Manning or Beau Bergdahl. We are not so fragile that a few statues or memorials will intimidate or the need for safe spaces and therapy will prevent us from pursuing and protecting the real rights which our men and women in uniform fight for. Quite simply, the greatest right we hold, is the right to be called “An American” and that is the one which needs to be valued and defined more than ever now.

Colorado mom, wife and grandma. Wanting a better America for the next generation. Just a regular girl...with opinions.

NOQ Report Daily

Advertisement

Facebook

Twitter

Advertisement Donate to NOQ Report

Trending

Copyright © 2017 NOQ Report.