Before I begin, I just want to say that I hate to quote Wikipedia, but it is considered to be the universal “laymen’s terms” source that we all
have access to. For something technical or published, I wouldn’t use it, but for a message board, it is adequate. With that being said…
What are “Rights”? It seems many people today don’t have an adequate understanding of what rights are or where they come from. We hear the term
“It’s my god-given right!” or people feel they are entitled to something as a right for merely being alive. That isn’t always the case.
Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is
allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory.
Living in today’s world, with various levels of belief in God or other deities, there are no “God given rights” that can be decided upon. I’m
not saying there isn’t a God, I believe in God, but some don’t. There are no God-given rights or they would exist and be protected no matter what
group was in power, no matter what area we lived in, no matter when we were born, no matter what the color of our skin, no matter what our gender, we
would have those rights and they would be protected. They aren’t.
Philosophically, we who are believers in God can state that we have the right to salvation and our life eternal, but we won’t know that while
we’re in this world and it has no effect on this world. There are no “God given rights” in our lives right here, right now as far as governments
are concerned. Those of us who do believe in and worship God could say that we feel him every day in our lives and he protects us as his children and
that could be argued ad-museum, but that’s not the purpose for this post. As far as the government is concerned, there are no god-given rights.
Rights are not something that exist as their own entities which must be followed by whatever group may be in power, they are something that is
determined by each group. Many are based on the history of that group, the societal norms, the basic beliefs, the morals that guide the people. They
are decided upon by the people that are involved.
Our rights as American citizens (those of us who are in the US) were laid out by the US Constitution and the laws of our nation. Our forefathers who
created the Constitution spelled out what our rights would be, what we would be given as citizens, what standard we would live by. Many of them were
carried over from the previous nation, the previous way of life, the previous histories and culture. They are spelled out for us, given to us along
with the responsibilities that ensure those rights.
These rights don’t exist without any strings, without any catch, without anything to do in order to keep them. Rights aren’t “gifts”, they are
principles that have been fought for, earned, protected, kept by our ancestors. With each and every right we have, we also have a responsibility.
We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but with these come responsibility. We have the right to life, but we have the
responsibility to respect the life of others. We have the right to liberty, but we have the responsibility to respect the liberty of others. We have
the right to the pursuit of happiness, but we have the responsibility to ensure that pursuit to others. It’s not a Me-Me-Me thing, it’s US, all of
These rights did not come easy nor did they come free. Many have fought, many have died and that fight will continue to ensure that these rights
remain. A right isn’t a “gift”, it is something that has been earned, something that has been fought for, blood has been shed for, people have
died for and they are NOT to be taken lightly. If we are unable to live up to the responsibilities that come with them, we don’t deserve the rights.
If we are not willing to be responsible for our actions, then our actions will be limited.
This is a two sided coin. You don’t get something for nothing. If you want happiness, then you work for happiness. You can’t spend your life doing
nothing, not working, expecting others to support you and be “rich” and never want for money of any kind. That is not your right, it is not
something you get just because you want it. We are a nation of spoiled children throwing tantrums wanting things handed to us. We work, we contribute
to society and if there comes a point in time we are not able to work, because of our contributions to society, because we did all we could, we are
then able to get support from the community in the form of disability or financial assistance. The responsibility was fulfilled, the right is intact.
You cannot go out and kill people just because you feel like it, you cannot go to a store and pick up what you want and walk out, you are not entitled
to break whatever law you want to break and walk about freely. If you do this, you will end up in jail and not have your “liberty”. It’s not a
free gift, it comes with a responsibility. You uphold the laws that exist, you enjoy the liberty and freedom that the laws were set up to ensure.
If you are unwilling to abide by the laws that are set forth, you do not have the rights that are set forth with them.
They are not a free gift, they are not something you are entitled to just because you exist, they are not something that you have and nobody else
does. They are the standards set forth by society and you have a responsibility to fulfill in order to maintain those rights. If you abuse those
rights, they are taken away. Stand up, do your part, be responsible and ensure these rights remain intact for future generations.