TW Peck's Weblog

random thoughts & perceptions on just about whatever strikes me fancy

The Rights of Man

Posted by twpeck on August 8, 2009

Modern society has come to view a “right” as meaning something a person wants to do.  We hear the word “rights” bantered around rather flippantly, usually taken to the personal level.  I have a “right” to be angry.  I have the “right” to do this or that.  I have a “right” to have something that someone else already has.

The proper idea of rights flows from those three words in our Declaration of Independence (penned by Thomas Jefferson) which states that one function of  government’s is not to impune the “inaleinable rights” of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.  This is not a call for hedonism, but a call for government to not interfer with those rights.

Yet, clearly, Jefferson saw that these “rights” were broad concepts not detailed listings.  He would be aghast at the expansiveness of government “entitlements”, which forcibly takes the property of one person to give to another.  He would be shocked at the compacting of religious expression that has encroached from the federal to state to local area.  He would be weeping for the complexities of the federal laws that overlap and intertwine and impact the daily lives of every citizen.  America today is not the nation he would have desired or even dreamed.

The call to “rights” in the Declaration is not a a call to hedonism, but for order, to safeguard the universal rights of all men (and women), and to offer freedom instead of oppression. The preamble clearly states that the purpose of the Consititution is to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”.

Today, we have lost the true concept of freedom.  a scant 40 years ago a liberal democrat said “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.  In our day and age of “rightism”, the reverse has become true.  People are asking not what they need to do but what the country should do for them.  This will be the death of the republic and Jefferson’s dream of democracy.

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