Rights and Responsibilities

Finding our way in the midst of pandemic pandemonium (Part 3)

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. (The Constitution of the United states of America, Second Amendment)

In 2012, Adam Lanza walked into an elementary school and opened fire, He killed nearly 30 people, most of them children. The outcry was immediate that, as a society, we needed to deal with gun violence. Along with the shouts for cultural change were also calls to address from a political standpoint how easy it is to get ahold of guns and how easy it is for certain people who should not have access to them to acquire them.

The response to these calls was also immediate. Americans have a second amendment right to have firearms and it should not, as the Constitution clearly states, be infringed.

In the past year and a half, we have heard similar arguments made against mask and vaccine mandates. Every time the discussion turns toward the need for them, the outcry is that mandating such things is an infringement on our rights.

Rights.

We Americans are obsessed with our rights. We absolutely abhor the idea that our rights should be limited in any way. And a certain segment of our population gets rather snippy when someone else steps up and demands theirs. As if someone else having rights somehow takes rights away from them.

Rights.

Every day the news comments section is chock full of people talking about their rights. But in a recent edition of the Robcast, Rob Bell talks briefly about another aspect of rights that seems to have been forgotten in the past 18 months.

Responsibility.

Every single one of our rights comes with certain responsibilities. And every one of those responsibilities has to do with other people.

To stick with the original example of rights mentioned above, the reason Americans have the right to own guns is because, “a well regulated militia” is necessary for the protection of the collective. For the Founding Fathers, owning guns had a purpose. And the purpose had nothing to do with hunting or collecting or showing off. The purpose was that each person who had a gun had a responsibility to protect the country from tyranny. Specifically, most likely, foreign invasion by England to take control.

They kept guns to protect others.

Which meant that there was an understanding. People were given certain rights by God himself for the benefit of others.

With every right came responsibilities specific to that right.

At no point in time has this changed. And yet it would seem that we have forgotten about this part of the whole thing.

When you refuse to wear a mask or get a vaccine, you are exercising your rights. Because you do have a right not to wear something you do not want to wear. You indeed have a right not to take medicine you do not want to take. But your choice not to do these things directly affects the lives of those around you who may be vulnerable to the very disease you could be potentially spreading. Maybe your response to that is that if they are so vulnerable then maybe they should stay home. But they also have rights. They have the right to go to the store or eat at a restaurant, just like you do. Your rights are not better rights than theirs. Your rights are, in fact, the exact same rights they have.

I hope you see where this is headed.

Empathy.

Compassion.

Responsibility.

Every single one of these characteristics has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with everyone else.