Please note: The following is not a philosophical debate, a legal push/pull contest, or even a religious discussion, although philosophy, law, and religion are all aspects of human rights and human obligations. Here, the intent is to remind, encourage, and challenge individuals to focus less upon human rights laws desired and more on human obligations owed. When we fight for human obligations, we inherently possess more human rights, liberties, and freedoms.
The famous Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is quoted as saying, “It is time… to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.” The author talked about Freedom’s direction in western society, as decadence has overcome common-sense, where administrative power has reduced individual liberty, and the dual critics of parliament and the press feel warranted to oppress and oppose without restraint and knowledge. Interestingly, the author’s comments come from 1978, in a graduation address at Harvard.
The United Nations has defined human rights as, “Human rights are moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behaviour and are regularly protected in municipal and international law.” Keep close note upon the use of law when discussing human rights. The human creator has been supplanted by a legal body that uses the law to create offenses where none existed and fight endlessly over minor items when laws are being destroyed daily. The countries eliminating human rights laws and causing problems at the United Nations are rich in cash and hire lawyers to mistreat the law for personal gain and political points.
Lost in the madness over human rights, the lawyers, the judges, the politicians pushing for creating new human rights, and the ever-present media influence is a simple and indisputable fact, morality cannot be legislated, nor can it be adjudicated. Martin Luther King Jr. is but one person making this distinction throughout human history, “Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.” The principle of morality remains critical, not to human rights but to human obligations.
Some legal scholar will claim the following is oversimplified, but hear me out. A pedophile attacks a child, exercising a moral choice; that pedophile is then arrested, convicted, and sent to prison. The pedophile is heartless and has received punishment for a moral choice but retains the ability to make this same choice again upon completing their prison sentence. Hence, morals cannot be legislated, but judicial action can restrain the heartless. A lawyer, and many people in California, may claim that the pedophile is only acting out of “Love” and does not deserve such a harsh sentence because the pedophile’s moral choices are actually the pedophile’s human rights. Forgetting the victim has the right not to be molested in the first place. The victim has expectations of human rights not to be stolen through the exercise of the moral choices of the pedophile.
Never forget, governments established laws and created human rights, and all government actions are always injurious! A government never acts altruistically but always with the intent and ability to harm. Hence, care and concern should be taken when discussing human rights, as the government is legally victimizing someone else to issue another person a “human right.” Human rights have become disconnected from human responsibilities, morals, and a connection to a creative power greater than man. By disconnecting human responsibilities and morals from human rights, human rights become a watchword for human control, oppression, and tyranny. Just like the pedophile in the analogy, to have their human rights acknowledged, the victims of sexual abuse and molestation must be further abused by the government recognizing the perpetrator over the victim.
Kee (2014) defined “human obligations, in contrast with human rights, are not written, and archived laws, but rather are those duties and responsibilities for which all men across the full expanse of time are obliged to fulfill.” Keep close note upon the hinge of human obligations, morals, and morality. Laws do not codify obligations. Obligations are a personal choice from the options available and the resources provided. For example, if I have money or resources to help the beggar putting up their petition, I can choose to honor a moral obligation and render aid. If I have not the resources, I am under no obligation but still, care about those asking for help.
Nelson Mandela is quoted as claiming a man (including women) has only two obligations: One obligation is towards his family, parents, wife, and children. The second obligation is his responsibility towards his people, community, and his country. I would venture there is a third obligation, to one’s god, gods, or God, his religion that supports the moral code selected for making life meaningful, rich, and purpose-filled. Morality cannot be separated from obligations, and moral codes are those provided by living a religious lifestyle. Yes; atheism is included in living a religious lifestyle; the separation is that the morals an atheist lives will change based upon who they are, what they study, and who they choose to emulate. At the same time, the morals of other more organized religionists are standardized and generally supported by membership in a community of other believers, where membership in that community of believers is a strong motivational force to act in a specific moral manner and honor moral obligations to maintain membership.
Separate and Not Equal
Essential to understanding, even though the United Nations mixes human rights and human obligations as synonymous, human rights are not human obligations! While the United Nations does tie human obligations to morals, by equating human rights and human obligations, the United Nations attempts to muddy the conceptual difference and give verity to human rights laws where no verity is possible.
Because man creates a government, and the government creates laws, the foundation for human law and, thus, human rights are never grounded in a moral code. For example, the Old Testament records Moses walked down off a mountain carrying Ten Commandments. These Ten Commandments formed Judeo-Christian Law for thousands of years and never mentioned human rights. However, human obligations abound in the Mosaic law as duties we owe to others. The sixth commandment is all about human obligations to honor our fathers and mothers. However, human rights laws claim honoring thy father and thy mother is not required under the law. Hence, human rights are not human obligations; they are separate and not equal actions, nor are the following of these separate pathways going to lead to the same destination.
Remember, laws come with lawyers; lawyers come with the power of manipulating the law for their own benefit, e.g., winning the case for the person who hired them. Thus, caution should always be remembered when discussing human rights, as a crafty lawyer, the right judge, and the pre-selected case can create lousy case law, and chaos reigns while respecting human rights.
Take any criminal case in the criminal justice system, and one will find that the human rights of the victims are not honored, respected, or even mentioned, but the criminal’s rights are always foremost in the administration of law. Add in a media whose sole purpose is to sell advertising space to the criminal justice system’s volatile mix. You have a perverted “criminal justice system,” and human obligations to the victims are never discussed. Take any politically charged legislation, and human rights created by lawyers and politicians are the talking points, not the human obligations, not the morality, and not the interests of Freedom and liberty.
The discussion of human rights and human obligations will continue in these articles as we move forward, but clearly appreciating the line separating human rights from human obligations is the first step to having logical conversations about the cause and effect of legislation, the injuries government have caused, and the continued injustices and moral degradation of democratic societies by people advocating for human rights. Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted saying, “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With Freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect [emphasis mine].”
A “Liberty FIRST Culture” must understand these basic principles, the origination of the problems, and the cause-and-effect nature of government action to begin to accept and live the required solutions. We, the members of democratic societies worldwide, must begin to honor, respect, and live human obligations, not human rights! We have an obligation to our families, our communities, and our god, gods, or God to live in a manner that respects our obligations owed to each other. In many cases, I will never meet those who read these words, but I have a moral obligation to speak the truth, discuss the truth, and, if wrong to correct my thinking and writing to respect the truth. More, I hold a human obligation to allow all to comment freely, without prejudice for my personal bias, opinions, and rights. This is called respect and responsibility, two words that have not been adequately honored in democratic societies for an exceptionally long time!
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
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