The Mechanics of Rights

Lately the phrase, “I have the right to …”, comes up a lot. Living in a society where basic and human rights exist and are protected and enforced by law is a good thing. These rights represent the rise of our social beliefs from savagery to civility, and encourage all of us to treat each other humanely.

We have long since conquered are basic needs, such as food, and shelter. Aside from members of our own species we do not fear any other species invading the security of our homes and families. We live largely in peace, and we argue and debate about things that really does not impact our basic needs. Instead, the things that we bicker about largely involve with how to improve our discretionary free time, such as:

  • How to make and spend money;
  • How to protect ones ownership and assets;
  • How to punish those who do not adhere to social norms;
  • How to maintain and climb whatever progress ladder that you want to climb;
  • How to change leadership;
  • Dream up new rights so that we can all be more comfortable;

We take for granted that it is this peaceful social atmosphere that allows us to contemplate how we can improve ourselves when living, working, and generally dealing with others. Without this basic-need social security blanket, all bets are off with rights.

I therefore assert that the notion of rights, whether they are human, civil, and even corporate are luxuries afforded by peaceful societies when they have enough time and sensibilities to create and enforce these rights. They are not a right but a privilege that we as a society has decided to define and maintain so that there is a higher sense of equality (protecting the weak from the strong), and civility.

Therefore it becomes very dangerous when people who would like to pursue new or change existing rights by adopting methods that endanger or violate the basic-need social security blanket. Radicals who justify the use of violence and threaten the basic social fabric and infrastructure to achieve their desire changes are also jeopardizing all other rights, threatening the livelihoods of others.

In essence, rights cannot be had, without peace and law. This is why I find very ironic that the people of Hong Kong are fighting for new rights by risking the current livelihood that others have enjoyed for so many years. Whether they know it or not, they are pursuing a path of country building and not protesting. Country building is much harder than instituting new rights. Many country’s foundation are ladened with blood and sacrifices.