What rights do you have? No, I’m not referring to your constitutional rights or your family rights. I’m not even referring to your copyright (if you have one:-)! The rights that I’m referring to are similar to those that were mentioned in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In the Declaration of Independence, our founding fathers declared that we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Do we?
Where do these rights come from? If I declare that I have the right to death, do I? Suppose I declare that I have the right to be healthy. Who or what gave me that right? Or, do I have that right? Oh, so many questions and so few answers!
Last August I wrote a post entitled, “Is Obama’s Basic Affordable Health Care For Everyone A Right Of Citizenship?“. Please click on the title to direct your browser to it. In that post, I argued that if basic affordable health care is not a right of citizenship in America, then it should be. If I’m correct, then where does that right come from? Is it a basic human right? Would we have to pass a law to make it a legal right? Should we amend the constitution to make it a constitutional right? If a religion organization declared it a right, then would it be a religious right (not THE religious right:-)? Could it possibly be a “moral” right? Really, where do rights come from? Is there really any such thing as a “God-given” right? Again, so many questions and so few answers!
So, do we have the right to have rights? Do we have rights simply because we are human beings? I think the answer to this last question is, yes!
Like the rights in the Declaration of Independence, we have “given” ourselves many rights. Here are many examples:
We have the right to not be perfect.
We have the right to feel good about ourselves.
We have the right to make choices.
We have the right to live.
We have the right to breathe.
We have the right to choose how we will use our time on earth.
We have the right to express ourselves.
We have the right to question.
We have the right to seek help.
We have a right to privacy.
We have a right to defend our rights.
We have a right to our beliefs.
I’m sure there are many more rights we could declare that we have, but perhaps my question in the title of this post still remains unanswered: “Do you have the right to have rights?”
How can I justify that you have the right to have rights? I think it’s really difficult to justify because it is multi-dimensional. For example, you might have a right legally, but not morally. The right to abortion might be such a right for you. Another example is the constitutional right of bearing arms. Even though it’s a constitutional right, there are many places in America where it’s illegal to carry a gun. For example, when I was teaching, it was illegal for me to bring a gun into school. Many rights are relative, meaning rights depend upon a what, when, where, and/or how the rights are used.
Do you have a right to have rights. Yes, and that may be the only right that you “absolutely“ have. All other rights are relative and depend on what, when, where, and/or how they are justified. Oh, so many questions and so few answers! :-)
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