Don't Confuse Freedom with Individual Rights

Don't Confuse Freedom with Individual Rights

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How many times have we heard people justifying their needs by saying something like, "This is a free country. I have the right to (anything goes here)". For words that people use quite frequently, they are often misused and misunderstood. From my point of view, it seems that most people use them as an alternative to explaining the real reasons why they want something.

So let me tell you what I think the two words mean in practice. Freedom is taking responsibility for you own actions and your own life.  If for example someone says, "I am freeing you of the need to make decisions", they are in fact taking your freedom away. So, how many people act as if they are free? Not all that many. Those who constantly complain that the government should do something about this or that, or that they have had a lot of bad luck in life, are not free. These people have abdicated their freedom to outside factors. Acknowledge that you are in the best position to alter your own situation and accept the consequences of all of your actions and you will be truly free. And it will be obvious, from that point on, when someone tries to take your freedom away.

What about personal rights. Do we have the right to free speech? What about a minimum standard of living? Or the right to bear arms and to vote? All of these rights seem to change in every culture in the world, so are there no ultimate rights. Well let me tell you. There are two ways to look at it. There are the rights that nature has given us. Which are the right to have what ever we are strong enough to take and the right to die without mercy. Does that seem a little harsh? Well that's nature for you, she's a mother.

Now the other way to look at it, is that rights are what most of the people in any given region agree is fair treatment. So, under this system there are no universal rights, just opinion. Does that make rights useless? Far from it. By constantly testing our rights against the current opinion, we learn the unofficial rules of our society. Thus if you can convince enough people around you that you have the right to fly unaided, then you are free to do so.

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But I suggest you remember mother nature's way of looking at things. I want to finish off this subject by paraphrasing some lines from Monty Python's Life of Brian.

Judith: "Why do you want to be a woman Stan?"

Stan: "I want to have babies."

Phil: "We will fight for your right to have babies, Stan."

Reg: "But what's the point? He can't have babies."

Phil: "It's symbolic of our struggle against Roman oppression."

Reg: "It's symbolic of Stan's struggle against reality, if you ask me."
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