Vigilance is only effective when it focuses on facts rather than what we prefer to believe because it suits our biases.
In our country today, we have protestors raging against just about everything. They don’t want to socially isolate. They protest that wearing masks in public infringes their rights to freedom. They want to go into any store or restaurant, all of which should be open, without taking any preventive actions to guard against potentially harming others, such as maintaining a little distance from others and wearing masks and gloves. They want their kids back in school – they’re such a bother when they’re home all day. They gather in protests armed with automatic weapons and yell and try to intimidate legislatures regarding shut-down rules. Actually, they’re protesting about guns and want to show off their manly demeanor with an AR15 wrapped around their neck. People have even been shot and killed in arguments over face masks and being seated at a table for food.
Really though, what are their rights?
Our Founding Fathers set forth their beliefs on this in the Declaration of Independence. They stated them clearly: “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.”
Before I discuss the specific rights, a comment about all rights in general. A right does not give you leave to use it irresponsibly. If you use your right to hinder the rights of others or to harm or injure others, or to subject them to possible harm or injury your right dissipates. It can’t be used for a justification to trample on others, period.
THE RIGHT TO LIFE This right may be best explained by considering your right to end your life. If you do not possess the right to choose to end your life and do so, you do not own your life. Please note that I am not advocating you should choose to exercise the right to end your life, only that you do have that right. I almost exercised that right twice. I didn’t and I won’t but I don’t own your life; just mine.
Your right to life gives you the absolute right to determine what happens to your body as long as it doesn’t limit the rights of others. The immediate specter here is abortion. A discussion of that issue will be for a later writing but the focus on it relates to the beginning of “Human” life and the beliefs and facts therein. In any event, the control of your life and your body comes with the implicit responsibility to utilize same and not harm the rights of others.
People having a right to life is the major reason for exercising restraint on the right to liberty. This is the right that says you have a right to responsible health care, including limiting your right to liberty to protect others. It gives you the right to reasonable food and shelter along with the responsibility to contribute your efforts to supporting society and everyone else as you are able.
THE RIGHT TO LIBERTY This right may easily be visualized as follows: You have the right to raise your hand, make a fist and swing it in any direction, at any velocity, as often and for as long as you desire. This right is immediately suspended and must pause at the instant before your fist comes into contact with the other guys nose. At this point a determination must be made as to whether the fist or the nose has the right to occupy that particular space. Since both the fist and the nose will argue that they should have the right over the other, governments intervene and make laws to provide for public safety and basic sanity. While not always successful, laws are intended to hold down the accumulation odd dead bodies in the streets and people walking around with fractured hands and broken noses.
As of this writing, the COVID19 pandemic has caused 95,000+ deaths in the United States and 333,000+ worldwide. Due to lack of testing, political manipulation of information to limit blame, and basic human stupidity in believing this is not a real problem; just a hoax., these numbers are undoubtedly low. For the purpose of discussing our right to Liberty, they are sufficient to make it clear that ignoring reasonable protocols to limit the spread of a virus that can be spread by people who are infected to others with great ease by simply breathing on them and who may themselves never have any symptoms of the infection, creates a necessity for intervention.
Make any argument you wish about your freedom. If you behave irresponsibly, you’re exposing others to unnecessary risk and your right to liberty must be suspended because of the potential for spreading this disease. Figuring out who is to blame for the coronavirus is an interesting pastime but less important by far than limiting it. Despite what anyone is saying, history tells us the pandemic will continue and will not be controlled until we have a vaccine, which will not occur until 2021. The number of deaths will continue to grow and should be sufficient reason for each of us to act responsibly regarding our freedoms so we guard everyone’s freedoms.
THE RIGHT TO THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS This is the least understood of the rights our Founding fathers ascribed to and attempted to build a functioning government around. First, they never say you’re entitled to be happy; simply that you have the right to try. Second, they didn’t define happiness. Spoiler alert, it has little or nothing to do with your Saturday night party.
They actually had two concepts they believed were innate to the right to pursue happiness. The first is not surprising. They were intent on building a society wherein success was partly defined by and, in their minds, innately attuned to the ownership of property. They were all successful, land-owning gentlemen and resented that the British King could confiscate their property and do with it as he wished at a whim. The caveat I would offer here, is the ownership and utilization of property, as with all rights, is subject to its impact on the rights of others.
The second concept is perhaps more astounding and definitely more revealing of their life philosophies. They believed that every educated man had the responsibility to examine the universe in which he lived and determine the appropriate course for him in that world. He should consider where we came from, who was responsible, what our duties were with regards to this and follow through with living a responsible life. Basically, they thought religion might be important or foolish but it should be each man’s responsibility to determine this for himself. The concept of the separation n of church and state, is based on the idea that the state should not dictate personal belief and should allow personal belief as long as it did not hinder the rights of others to do the same. Therefore, any state religion was not a good idea and would not be permitted.
LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT OUR RIGHTS.
Check out my book: UBUNTU: I AM BECAUSE WE ARE. A TREATISE ON FIXING THE FRACTURED STATE OF AMERICAN GOVERNANCE. (Available on Amazon.)
It sets out the only peaceful method to alter the course of American government to pursue a government that governs by the consent of the government with a commitment to the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness equally for everyone.