There are Rights, and there are Privileges... and they're not the same.
Because you are a human (a person), and not an animal or a plant, you are unique among living creatures on Earth. You have intelligence and ability that surpasses the intelligence and ability of every other living thing on this planet. Because of this, you have certain rights and responsibilities that other living things do not. You have claim upon certain things that other living things do not, and with that claim you have a stewardship that accompanies it. These facts are quite obvious, and can be easily understood when explained in simple terms.
As a human being, you have certain ‘unalienable’ rights, or claims that can be made upon items essential to your humanity. Sometimes these rights are also described as ‘fundamental’, or ‘basic’. No matter how they are described, it is important to note that they are absolutely essential to meaningful human existence, and cannot be infringed upon without committing a universal crime against the individual. Those familiar at all with U.S. history may recognize that these rights were formally (and only) declared in The Declaration of Independence, and later expounded upon by the Bill of Rights. Let it be understood, however, that the declaration of these rights didn’t at all create them, for they existed and were held by all human beings that ever lived on the earth long before any form of government was ever organized.
A clear general (known by all) knowledge of these fundamental rights and responsibilities is essential to the continued existence of a free, prosperous and peaceful society. Let’s discuss for a moment what these basic human rights are, and what they are not. There are only three – so it won’t take long. ;-) All other associated rights are merely derived from these initial, foundational pillars – the value of each dependent upon the coexistence of the other two.
The three primary rights are absolutely crucial to your existance.
The Right To Life
Believe it or not, because you are human, you have a right to live. No other living thing (human, creature, plant or otherwise) has a higher claim upon your life than you do. It is yours, and yours alone, and it cannot be threatened or taken without serious legal and eternal consequences. To believe otherwise removes all value and purpose to life itself. Each person that exists on Earth holds this same exact right to their own life. With that life comes your time, individuality, thoughts, creative energy and talents. Any action by another that prevents, or attempts to prevent, you from living violates your right to Life.
The Right To Liberty
Because you exist (thanks to your right to life), you have something called ‘agency’. You have exclusive claim upon directing your life – to make choices for yourself in how you use your time, energy and talents. No one else can, or should, violate this right. You should make your own choices, based on your own understanding, morals and system of beliefs. Sometimes others, regardless of their supposed best intentions (which, by the way, make poor paving material), try to make decisions for us – either by deciding what is ‘right’ for us, or by removing all possible ‘wrong’ choices from our selection. Any kind of act that prevents YOU from deciding what’s best for YOU violates your right to be free.
The Right to Exclusive Ownership and Control of Property
While the same wording was not used in the Declaration of Independence, the sentiment most certainly was. Instead, the words “pursuit of happiness” were penned, since Thomas Jefferson (even though a slave owner himself) understood the value of human life (including the rights of man) and didn’t want to encourage the practice any further under the new form of government the Founders were hoping to establish. Just like every other human on Earth, you have the right to exclusively own and control your property. Property includes things like your home, your vehicles, your animals, your money, your time and talent. It especially includes your own body, and what you choose to put (or NOT to put) in it. You have an individual right to control your own property – which, by the way, just so happens to be the product of your life and liberty. Simple: Life + Liberty = Property.
Without Life - Liberty and Property are worth nothing. Without Liberty (the power to direct Life and Property) – the others have little value to the individual. And, without the exclusive ownership and control over Property, the purpose and value of Life and Freedom would be made void. All other ‘rights’ claimed in a civilized society are (and must) be derived from one, or a combination of, these basic, fundamental, human rights. It should be recognized that animals and plants do not share these same rights. Animals do not have a right to life, liberty or the ownership and control of property (they are property). Plants do not have a right to life, liberty or property (they are property). Dirt and rocks do not…. okay, you get the picture. ;-)
Now, a word concerning the Source of your Rights. Those with faith will readily acknowledge that their rights as humans were granted to them by a higher intelligence when they themselves were created for a mortal experience here on Earth. But… what if you don’t believe in a higher power? What if you’re an Atheist or Agnostic? Don't you have the same rights as everyone else? The answer is an obvious, “Of course!” Whether you believe your rights came from God, or not, doesn't change the fact that they exist and are of paramount importance in society, and in your relation to government. The fact is – and no one can successfully argue otherwise – that human rights existed long before government ever did. So, anyone telling you that your rights came from the Constitution, or some law, or because some bureaucrat granted them to you is selling something, and it isn't freedom. It should be understood, however, that in America the Constitution of the United States was established in order to secure these rights to those that lived within it’s protection, and to future generations that were fortunate enough to be born in, or brought to this land.
Remember: You hold the same basic rights as every other human being on the planet. It’s crucial to also understand that Rights do not overlap. If someone else has a right to a specific something, then you do not. Likewise, if you have a right to a specific something, than no one else does. That is the essence of a ‘right’. When it comes to human action, you should be free to act (make any choice you want to make concerning your own body and/or property) within your own sphere, so long as you do not prevent someone else from doing the exact same thing with their own rights. This understanding is the responsibility mentioned above that is associated with such rights.
Since things can still be a little confusing sometimes, let's discuss in greater detail a few of the other things you have a right to, thanks to the three basic rights mentioned above. Remember, all other humans have these same rights, and your right to do the following things shouldn't in any way prohibit someone else from doing these same things. Your rights stop where theirs begin. And, likewise, their rights stop where yours begin.
WORK AND BE PRODUCTIVE
Since you have a right to be free, you have a right to decide how to use your mind, time, energy and talents. You have a right to work and produce a good or service that others desire. If you have your own business, only YOU should decide how it's run. If you work for someone else, no one else should prohibit you from going to work when asked to.
FEED YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY
No matter the price of food at the nearby supermarket, you have the right to grow your own food. Whether it's livestock, or a garden, the earth is fully capable of producing enough food for the hungry, many times over.
TRAVEL & MOVE
As explicitly penned in the U.S. Constitution, you have a right to travel, and no one should stop you. If you want to walk across the entire country, you are free to do so. To prohibit you from doing otherwise would be equal to imprisonment.
SPEAK YOUR MIND
Regardless of the existence of "Free Speech Zones", you have a right to have your own opinion, and to express it. Others may or may not listen (they can make that choice for themselves), but you have a right to use your lips or fingers to say whatever it is you have to say to the world.
FRUITS OF YOUR LABOR
When you labor (whether it's primarily physical or mental), you produce something; typically a product or service for someone else that desires it. You trade your time, energy and/or skills for something else that you see as having greater value or benefit to you. When you willingly give up whatever is required in your work, your right to it was transferred to whatever you received in exchange for your work. Your "fruit" may come from the hard work in your orchard. Or, it may be the meat you receive from your neighbor in exchange for the fresh vegetables from your garden. Or, it may be the paycheck your employer gives you after a hard two weeks at the factory. Whatever it is, it's the fruit of your labor, and you have an exclusive right to own and control it.
BE LEFT ALONE
Unless you're violating the rights of someone else, no other person has a right to your attention. Like everyone else, you have the right to decide with whom you associate. While naturally social creatures, we still have a right to decide whom we will communicate or be around. Some people decide they don't want to be around others, or give their attention to someone or something else. And, that's just fine. We each have a right to be left alone, and live our lives free of harassment from others.
Because you have a right to life, you have a right to defend that life, no matter what it takes. You also have a responsibility to come to the defense of others; your family, neighbors and even complete strangers. Why? Because if something or someone is threatening them, it could very well threaten you next. Your safety and well being are ultimately yourresponsibility.
MAINTAIN YOUR RIGHTS
To learn more about how to maintain your rights, visit the Maintaining Rights page.