Thomas Jefferson writes in the Declaration of Independence of our unalienable rights.
“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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
I’m as much a supporter of liberty as anybody but I have to take issue with the notion that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Why? Not that I oppose them, just that I don’t believe they’re guaranteed. Let’s take a look.
Life? Who has that guarantee? We are born 100% dependent on other humans to care for us. You’d hope that your parents take their obligation seriously in rearing you, but as they say, you don’t get to pick your parents. It’s luck of the draw. Children dying from neglect are a daily occurrence in this world so if the Good Lord had intended for us to be endowed with a right to life, one would think we would’ve at least started out right at adulthood with the ability to support ourselves.
Liberty? What hope does a child born in North Korea have of ever experiencing liberty?
You can see where I’m going with this. Protections against a government, or any entity for that matter, are in place to prohibit said entity from impeding our rights. Any perceived endowment from our Creator right from birth is really symbolism as we aren’t capable of exercising our rights in our early years. It isn’t just a matter of youth. Some will die young. Some will face lifelong disabilities preventing them from ever exercising their endowed rights.
A right is said to be universal, in place at all times and in all places. This clearly isn’t the case. Having the ability to exercise a right is dependent upon ones opportunity to exercise it. It may never be the case in which you were denied by another from exercising a right, just that you weren’t able to do so. That doesn’t qualify as endowed by the Creator in my book.
The reason I’m delving into this subject is the ridiculous notion proffered by the U.N. in accusing the city of Detroit of discrimination by denying residents who don’t pay their water bill as having their right’s violated – http://rinf.com/alt-news/latest-news/un-detroit-denial-water-thousands-violates-human-rights/
So what really is a right and who gets them? Clearly, rights aren’t based upon need as our disabled would testify to. Nor are they based upon any of our differences as human beings. No one ever started out life with any guarantee of equality or fairness or opportunity. Our education, our morality, our religion, etc. are all products of our environment.
Natural law or any other attempt to declare rights, such as the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_the_Rights_of_Man_and_of_the_Citizen – are just that. Declarations. That being ideals and noble goals we should all aspire to. Constitutions around the world can adopt these ideals as ours has here in the U.S., but it doesn’t change the fact that we never had them guaranteed from day one universally.
Good conscience or treating others with respect are nice, but they don’t qualify as a guaranteed right. The infrastructure system in place to deliver water right to your tap in the city of Detroit is a product of innovation and taxpayer dollars used to implement it. Not a right endowed from the Creator. The necessities required to sustain life vary from person to person. Food, water and air may be the bare bones basics for all of us, but some may need much more merely to survive. So rights cannot be need based as they aren’t universal accordingly.
Supporters of human rights or liberty shouldn’t be dismayed. Holding up a theory such as endowed rights from our Creator as a bellwether for all to subscribe to is just a testament to the good natured side of mankind. Those who object for other nefarious reasons will never adhere either in ideology or in practice. For example, none other than our illustrious President Obama. He has famously stated that our Constitution consists of a negative charter of liberties. Spoken by a true supporter of the collective trumping the individual. He believes that any rights one may have are those that are granted by the state.
You may say, how is that really any different than what I’ve been discussing? After all, if rights aren’t endowed by a Creator, than isn’t the state the next logical substitute? The difference is in the ideology. Obama and his type believe in state granted liberties that can be taken back at their discretion. I disagree with the premise of Thomas Jefferson, but not the practice. He may believe that our rights were Heaven sent and unalienable. However, even one who simply agrees that our agreed upon rights are universal and irrefutable regardless of their origin will still make law to limit government the same.
There you have it. A right is an agreed upon discipline considered equally valuable to all and therefore worthy of protection from those who would disavow it. A right provides an opportunity for those who have the ability to utilize it. Laws are necessary to limit entities such as government from exceeding their authority which may result in suppressing our rights. Guaranteeing our rights doesn’t mean that you are assured of them, only that they can’t be denied to you. They are the traditional opposition to progressivism, a guarantee of opportunity and not one of outcome.
Perhaps the day will come when mankind supports the notion that public services should be provided to all regardless of cost. That day hasn’t come yet. After all, I have a well and septic system at my home. Do you think other taxpayers will support paying for my new well when the need arises? I didn’t think so. So you residents of Detroit? Just pay your damn water bill and enjoy the fruits of your progressive dream!