I hope my blog this week will bring on some discussion and also make you think about stuff we take for granted and consider to be our right.

I keep hearing about rights, right to do this, right to say that. One thing I keep hearing is a right to have clean air and water. But what are rights?

According to Wikipedia a right is a moral or legal entitlement to have or do something.

So who decides what our rights are? Are rights something that we have accepted and taken for granted? In the western world we have generally got clean air and water, we have food, a roof over our head and clothes. We also mainly have gadgets to make life easier. But in some countries, this is not available. There are many people out there who do not have access to clean drinking water never mind anything else. So what about their rights?

Who first decided what our rights were? Is a right an artificial way of saying ‘we want’? Are rights about freedom to do what we want whatever the consequences? There is a saying ‘do what you want as long as you do no harm’. But how does that fit in with respect for others? If we want a fairer world where we are all equal and we respect each other and our land, then how do rights fit in with this? Over to you now.


2 thoughts on “Rights!

  1. Living in a place where most people do not have access to what we would say are ‘basic human rights’ – clean water, enough food, shelter, clothing – this is food for thought. I think that in the “Western” world there is a lot of entitlement. People feel it’s their “right” to a flat screen TV, the latest i-whatever, and closets full of clothes. Living very simply amongst people here in Ghana who have far less than I has taught me how little we actually need to be satisfied.

  2. A moral or legal entitlement leaves a pretty big loophole as who decides what is moral or legal? For myself, it makes sense to view a right as that which is necessary to acquire to survive–food, water, shelter, etc. And any one who tries to take away that right is wrong and should be stopped. Thus when Coca Cola privatizes water in the developing world and then markets bottled water at a higher price than their soda products, water that used to be freely available at a community well, Coca Cola should be stopped.

    Trickier is the right to shelter. I don’t know if there is anywhere in the world where a person has the right to be sheltered as we can see by the homeless populations throughout the world. And we can’t expect a builder to build homes for free as that would be slavery. This then gets into taxation–personally, I think it is fine to levy taxes and use the proceeds to provide homes for those who can’t acquire them on their own. But others consider taxation to be theft. I look at taxation more along the lines of the price to be paid for living in a civilization.

    Sadly, I’m afraid rights will never be bestowed based on morals. The people have to fight for them, and then continue to fight even after they are secured as there are always those who try to take them away.

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