Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What Gives You the Right?

I've gotten a lot of flak lately for my views on what some people perceive as their rights which has caused me to consider why I feel the way I do and also if I am wrong. My beliefs can be summed up as follows: no one has a right to anything unless you believe there is a higher moral code. The only thing you have a right to is what you fight for.

As I've stated before, if morality is subjective as some believe then there isn't an ultimate truth of how the world should run and it comes down to a situational basis of what profits you best in the moment (or society best if you are a more globally conscious individual). This rubs many people the wrong way because they feel that they deserve certain things and I have heard many times the phrase "what gives you the right to do xyz?" when people feel that their intrinsic values have been violated.

A few nights ago while eating dinner my girlfriend and I were discussing this topic and it suddenly dawned on me where my belief about rights or lack there of comes from - my childhood. It's more specifically a teaching that was espoused in our home school program based off a story of a missionary in Papua New Guinea and his pineapples (and that's not code for his balls). The short version of the story is that he planted a pineapple garden because they were his favorite fruit but the natives began stealing them from him. Increasingly escalated steps were taken to stop the pineapple larceny as the missionary grew more and more angry all failing until he procured a german shepherd which scared the shit out of the natives. It finally occurred to the missionary (or he said God told him) that his desire to protect his right to fresh pineapples was interfering with his objective and purpose of being in the country. God told him that he needed to lay down his rights and trust that god would provide what he thought the missionary needed.

This teaching was coupled with the "turn the other cheek" message Jesus taught and was drilled into our heads - you don't have a right to anything. We were taught to be grateful for the freedoms that we have in America; however, we were to be conscious of the fact that they could be taken away and we would just have to deal with it. This leaves me in my current quandary over what we do and do not deserve. I believe that if someone were to harm me or those I love, I would take action to protect them but when you branch out into things like "what does the government or society owe me?" I feel uncertain.

I believe that there is a universal code of "treat others how you would want to be treated" however, that still doesn't per se denote any specific civil rights. If blacks hadn't fought for their rights in the '60s then they probably wouldn't have them today. I completely endorse that effort and mission of people who are treated as less than to achieve equal status which goes along with my belief - if you want something, you have to fight for it because other people aren't going to just hand it to you. I know this sounds awfully close to me saying that people don't deserve civil liberties which is not my belief because I hold true that "all men are created equal". What I am pondering and trying to ascertain is where that line of "unalienable rights" based on humanity dissolves into people being selfish. For instance do we all deserve health care as a basic human right? If so why? Sure, if you fight for it because you think you deserve it and achieve that goal then great, you now have that right through the process of litigation and lobbying.

What people deserve or potentially think they deserve is a touchy topic because no one wants to be told no. Much of the world is very self centered and interested in what they can gain for themselves so to say that they only deserve what they can build with their own hands stirs up huge amounts of vitriol. I'm still trying to figure all of this out and knowing where my thought process got it's roots in is a helpful step in determining where my beliefs go from there. Bare with me as I attempt to figure this shit out.

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