Rights, Liberties, Freedoms, Responsibilities, Privileges: A Definitive Declaration!

Knowledge Check!In a previous post, I wrote about the principle of self-control and liberty in law; I did not realize the turmoil caused by not understanding the difference between a right, liberty, freedom, where responsibility enters, and how these principles work together.  My apologies; I learned these differences as a child and never considered that others might not be able to detail, define, describe, and delineate between these fundamental principles.  My plan originally with this article was not to provide a definitive declaration; then, I researched some of the claptrap online being passed off as learned scholarly discussion and was disgusted!  Thus, my aims and intents changed; I would see this article be referenced and used to aid in clearing up the confusion generated by word plasticity and modular language tyranny.

Along the way, I will include both links and resources for further study for your ability to grow and feel confident in defending rights, liberties, freedoms with responsibility and dedication.  Only through learning can we, the owners of representative governments, begin to change government direction and regain our liberties and freedoms!

RightsApathy

The founding fathers of America understood rights and called them inalienable.  There is a reason for this; rights cannot be taken away.  An individual can give rights away, but because a right is inalienable, it means a power greater than the government has distributed these rights, and all are equal in their possession of these rights.  Inalienable specifically refers to rights that cannot be surrendered, transferred, or removed permanently from a person.

How does a person give away an inalienable right; they refuse to accept that a right is inalienable.  Consider the US Bill of Rights, a document full of those inalienable rights or rights that cannot be surrendered, transferred, or removed permanently from an individual.  Consider one of the first inalienable rights discussed in the US Bill of Rights, religion.  What you believe is your choice; nobody can, or should, have the power to tell you what you believe.  Belief transcends thought into a unique place inside your brain; some would call it a soul.  Depending upon your flavor of religion, a soul could or could not exist.  I am not writing a definitive declaration about religion, I am writing about rights, and your personal belief where religion is concerned is fundamental to you expressing yourself.

Plato 2Is the distinction clear?  A right cannot be stripped from you by anyone, ever unless you choose to deny your inalienable rights to that particular right.  For example, the US Bill of Rights declares your ability to defend yourself is an inalienable right.  You choose how to protect yourself, e.g., guns, fists, sticks, knives, alarms, police, etc.  How you choose to defend yourself is your inalienable right, and you deserve to be protected in your rights to self-defense.  If a person attacks you, you have the inalienable right to self-protection.  This is established through case laws.  How many women have been physically, sexually, and mentally abused by a spouse or partner, who then took action to defend themselves and were acquitted at trial; too many to mention in a declaration on rights.  Just know, you have a right to self-defense, and this right can never be stripped from you by anyone but you.

Liberties

Liberties are a little more complicated to define and detail.  Some applications of the word liberty include freedom from confinement, servitude, or forced labor.  Whereas liberty is also a power to act as one chooses, even if that action breaks a society’s accepted standards, i.e., laws.  Liberties can also include unwarranted risks, deviations from facts (lies), departing from compliance to the accepted and proper methods of prudence.

The Duty of AmericansIn most societies, you can purchase and legally become the owner of an item due to the purchase.  Thus, liberty allows you to become free to use that purchase however you desire.  Until the use of that purchase interferes with someone else’s inalienable rights.  For example purchase of a baseball bat is legal, mostly around the world.  Use that baseball bat for its intended purposes, i.e., to play baseball or softball, and the government does not infringe upon your liberties.  Use that baseball bat outside its intended purposes, to break windows, cause injuries or property damage, and you can lose your liberty and your property.

Imperative to understanding, liberty can be taken by force through the law, government action, and or improper use of liberty.  Perform an imprudent act, and someone is going to take your liberty away.  For example, in Hong Kong, China has ruled that freedom of speech has been curtailed.  While freedom of speech is an inalienable right, China refuses to honor free speech as an inalienable right, and Hong Kong peoples suffer.  The people of China and Hong Kong can still speak their minds exercising their inalienable rights, but taking these liberties to exercise their rights, has been strictly and violently enforced by a government refusing to believe people have inalienable rights.

PatriotismThus the confusion and complication in defining and detailing liberties.  Liberties can be taken and refused; liberties can be eliminated by government force and social changes.  Liberties are not inalienable rights or even a right.  You do not have a right to liberty.  You may pursue happiness, but achieving happiness is not a right, freedom, or liberty.

Consider the purpose of government as detailed in the US Constitution’s preamble:

“… In order to form a more perfect Union (Government), establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

Consider also the purpose for the US Bill of Rights, as the first amendments to a brand new constitution:

“… Prevent misconstruction or abuse of its (US Government) powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”

The government creates liberties, calls these rights, and then attempts to confuse the problem.  For example, welfare benefits as currently understood (2021) are significantly different from welfare benefits understood in (1920) America.  Today, people on welfare benefits consider their government-provided support a right when in actuality, it is barely a liberty.  Most importantly, those welfare benefits can be restricted, removed, curtailed, curbed, and denied based upon the whims of government.  This is why welfare is not a right and barely a liberty.  Welfare benefits are barely a liberty because someone else has to pay for the privilege of supporting another person through forced taxation (legalized theft).Life Valued

Freedoms

Freedoms are even more complicated, and freedoms have been made more challenging to understand purposefully by political design as a means to steal liberties and rights from individuals, under a myriad of different names, i.e., social justice, equality, freedom, and civil liberty, etc.  Let’s start with civil liberties, which are neither a right or a liberty, regardless of the politician pushing the name.

LookCivil liberties are freedoms you pay the government to enjoy.  For example, driving a car requires a license.  By issuing licenses, the government can control the population, even though driving is considered a privilege, a right, and is often confused with “freedom of the open road,” which is two lies for the price one.  Another example is marriageMarriage throughout human history has been a tug-of-war between religion and government.  As a point of reference, marriage ceremonies are unique in the human condition anthropologically speaking.  But, as a civil liberty, the government can restrict you from marrying your pets, marrying objects and can grant and deny marriage privileges as it deems appropriate to the political situation.

The state does not recognize some religious ceremonies for marriage, which means that marriage is null and void under the state’s control. Yet, under that religious belief, that marriage is binding.  Consider China again; China refuses to honor Christian marriage ceremonies as valid under the law and several other religions and religious traditions.  Thus, civil liberties are at best an approved and licensed government action, not freedoms, liberties, and rights.  As the saying goes, “The government giveth and the government taketh.”

quote-mans-inhumanityFreedoms are often defined as political independence, which is fine insofar as civil liberties are concerned.  Freedoms entail several other qualities that the government cannot give, take, invent, or delete.  True freedoms do not need legal support from case law to be enjoyed.  True freedoms include living without restraints, acting without control or interference, and not being bound by conventions, rules, and authorities.  It cannot be stressed enough, even though liberties and freedoms share some components, they are merely similar, not identical.  In trying to push liberty and freedom as equivalent, the tyranny of language is discovered to sunshine disinfectant.  A right, especially those inalienable rights, are not freedoms or liberties to be granted and removed at the power of authority, and the distinction should be clear.

Privilegesquote-mans-inhumanity-2

Privileges are easy to understand; privileges are permission granted at the request of an authority to grant limited power, responsibility, or situational control over something.  What is a driver’s license, the privilege to drive, which can be revoked at the whims of the government issuing the privilege (license).  Civil liberties are a privilege granted by an authority; ownership is not conveyed, legal responsibility extends only for the controlled use under strict supervision by the authority.  For example, while a state employee, I was granted the privilege of operating a state-owned vehicle, provided I followed all the rules set forth by the state issuing that privilege.  Ending state employment ended the privilege of operating that government vehicle.  Easy enough to understand, a privilege is not a liberty, freedom, right, or inalienable right.

A privilege also contains immunity from commonly imposed laws, standards, and social constraints.  Think of the police officer who makes a right turn across multiple lanes of traffic.  To conduct their job and fulfill their duties, police officers sometimes have to break laws to enforce a greater law or protect the safety of others and are immune from breaking those traffic laws that the rest of us must follow.  However, even in this instance, a privilege is not freedom, a right, or liberty, simply authority granted immunity when on the job to act in a manner that supports public safety and enforces the state’s authority over driving privileges.

The Role of ResponsibilityPresident Adams

Responsibility is a word that gets thrown around too often where the definition is muddied, and the intent is to harm and control someone else.  Responsibility is nothing more or less than the condition of being required to account for one’s actions, behaviors, and the consequences of the same.  For example, a defendant in a courtroom can be required to account for and make restitution for behaviors, actions, and consequences that were out of compliance with societal norms; we call this type of responsibility justice.

On a less extreme example, a child is out throwing rocks, the rock thrown breaks a window, who is responsible, the child or the parent?  The child should be held responsible and taught accountability; however, society is moving more and more towards holding that parent responsible.  Except, does this hurt or help the child stop throwing rocks?  Now, I have heard parents proclaim that throwing rocks is a right of passage for children, and the child should not be responsible for the consequences.  Therein lay the problem with freedoms, liberties, privileges, and rights, the role of responsibility.

Exclamation MarkIt has been said that my freedom of speech ends where your nose begins.  Thus, I cannot exercise my freedom of speech through physical violence, or I lose my right to speak and, more likely, some freedom and property as well.  Thus, the role of responsibility begins with knowing the extent of and limitations formed around rights, freedoms, liberties, and privileges, for ignorance of the law is not an excuse.  Our responsibility of living in society is to know the rules that form the laws and the social constraints of that society.

For example, the people of Germany have worked hard to make their country beautiful, and the principle of living in a Germanic society is In Ordnung.  If something is out of order, for example, litter, the person creating that situation outside of order is publicly shamed.  In America, the societal norms have been beaten and hindered, so that a person coming into America illegally has the rights, as granted by the government, not to learn the language, learn the culture, or even assimilate.  Whereas those coming legally into America are required to learn, adapt, and assimilate into America.  Thus, the role of responsibility can be used selectively to provide civil liberties to one group while withholding those same rights from others based upon political conditions.

Conclusion

Image - Eagle & FlagRights, especially inalienable rights, are yours as provided by a higher power than the government.  Liberties are the power to act without constraint, provided your exercise of liberty does not infringe upon the inalienable rights of another.  Freedoms rest upon political independence, something feared by every bureaucrat and power-mad politician in history.  Privileges are permissions granted by a higher authority to conduct business or fulfill a purpose.  Civil liberties are not liberties, but privileges can be taken away by authorities and social changes.  Regardless, the role of responsibility is inseparably connected to rights, liberties, freedoms, and privileges. One day, accountability will be demanded for the responsibilities connected to how a person used their liberties, freedoms, rights, and privileges.

References

Leadbeater, C. W. (1913). The hidden side of things. Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House.

Lieberman, M. D. (2013). Social: Why our brains are wired to connect. NY: Oxford University Press, USA.

Poerksen, U. (2010). Plastic words: The tyranny of a modular language. NY: Penn State Press.

Paine, T. (2008). Rights of man, common sense, and other political writings. NY: Oxford University Press.

Tucker, W. (2014). Marriage and civilization: How monogamy made us human. NY: Simon & Schuster.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

A Failure to Listen – The Hinge Upon Which Governments Fail or Thrive

AmidalaPadmé in “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” makes a powerful statement about the galactic war being fought, “This war represents a failure to listen.”  While Padmé insists that diplomacy is required, this is incorrect.  Diplomacy is the political game of charades, with smoke and mirrors of intelligence games.  Diplomacy fails because each sides agenda is more important than the words being spoken, which is why so much of the work done in diplomatic circles is done in “informal settings.”  Diplomacy fails to listen.

America is a Republic, rather America is a Constitutional Republic, where the rule of law as written is the supreme law of the land to which every citizen is bond.  In the world there are democracies, where the mob rules.  There are socialist governments where the fat of government is forcibly taken through taxation and doled out by the micro-ounce to those selected to win or lose.  There are still communist governments and monarchies where the leaders are pampered to the detriment of the citizenry.  Unfortunately, between these extremes are a host of other government types who borrow pieces from many government theories thinking they can escape the negative consequences of those government methodologies.

Yet again we find Padmé’s counsel appropriate and timely.  Before war begins, there is always a refusal to listen.  For example, it is historically accurate that the US Government had signs and warnings of the impending Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, but the US Government had stopped listening to adverse advice, and America paid dearly for that failure to listen.  Worse, war came, and hundreds of thousands paid in blood for that failure to listen.

Emotional OutburstThe Russians thought diplomacy was the appropriate approach to Nazi Germany; and Nazi Germany made the Russians pay in blood for the failure of the government to listen.  Even though history has regularly taught the Russians not to engage in diplomatic solutions with Germans.  This was hardly the first fight between Germany and Russian troops and governments.  Failure to listen, and the citizens suffered tremendously to overthrow both Nazi Germany and then the chains of Communism.

Consider again the relationship between Mexico and the United States, the Mexican Government has never been an ally or friend to the United States; yet, the governments refuse to listen to common sense, and throughout history, those people hellbent on destroying America have always found safe passage and refuge in Mexican borders.  History relates that the failure of governments to listen, is the root of the United States and Mexican sour relationship.

Cuba has suffered under Communism and Castro’s poor ideas because government leaders refused to listen.  Venezuela fell because the governments in power refused to listen to each other, bribed the electorate, stole elections, and now a once mighty nation is starving while their government leaders sit in luxury.  How many times will this story have to repeat before the citizens of governments learn, we must be able to speak freely, and listen appreciatively, if we are to survive, grow, and prosper.

For too long, the powers of the world who consider themselves above the law have worked to keep the citizens separated into fighting factions.  Every conceivable line that can be drawn to distract, separate, denigrate, and deride has been drawn, and the only people winning in this are those drawing the lines.  Republicans against Democrats, Homosexuals against Heterosexuals, religions aplenty all against each other, state to state, NFL/NHL/NBA/NASCAR and so much more adding confusion and noise to the problem and further separating people along ambiguous lines to keep them from talking and listening appreciatively to each other.

Nuclear FamilyHow many families cannot have a meal without choices of lifestyle and hostility ending conversation over a failure to listen?  Can a Chicago Bears Family survive long with a fan from Minnesota or Wisconsin?  What about the other choices people make in their lives, religious flavor versus another religious flavor; this simple line has been destroying nations since history began being recorded.  What do we see in the Old Testament; governments repeatedly failing because they stopped listening.

Please note, this is not a call to drop standards, accepting everything, and singing “Kumbaya,” while Rome burns, and society dies an ignominious death.  This is a call to cease destroying society and begin listening first!  Why were the riots this past summer so brutal and destructive; first the mob stopped listening, then they stopped talking, and then they started fires and terrorizing society.  Why did they stop listening; because they assumed no one heard them and cared enough to shift the paradigm, (patterns of thought and action all based upon selfishness and pride).

Darth and AnakinWhy did Anakin stop being a Jedi; he stopped listening, then he selectively listened, he began acting as a terrorist, and then he became Darth Vader.  This plot line of refusing to listen is so prevalent and obvious because humans continue to make the same mistake.  When we stop listening to each other, we stop talking; when we stop talking, we become overwhelmed by our own echo-chambers, and create the chaos that ultimately destroys our lives, our dreams, and our futures until we begin to lay aside petty differences and listen to each other again.

Listening has four distinct levels:

    • Inactive listening – Hearing words, seeing written communication, zero impact mentally. Mostly because your internal voices drown out the possibility for communication.
    • Selective listening – Hearing only that which confirms your own voices, opinions, and biases. While others are speaking, you are already forming your response.
    • Active listening – Show the other person you are paying attention, engage with meaning in a reply. Focused upon removing barriers to get your point across.
    • Reflective listening – Paying attention to intent and content, reducing emotion, two-direction as both parties are engaged in achieving mutual understanding.

Social Justice WarriorListening appreciatively is reflective listening, where we commit to listening with the intent to achieve mutual understanding.  Essentially, to improve government we must listen first with the intent to reach mutual understanding, before we ever open our mouths to speak.

The following are some launch points for improving listening in society:

      1. Understand your desire.  Know that your desire choices are determining your destiny.  If your destiny is not one you appreciate, return to desire, make different choices.
      2. Practice mental preparation based upon previous situations, to make different choices.  Listening is a voyage of discovery to reach a mutual understanding, but mental preparation is key to safely reach the destination.  Prepare, use a mirror, practice until what currently feels alien becomes familiar.
      3. Reduce emotion.  The principle of empathy and sympathy are destroying listening and only reflect the internal voices.  The volume of internal voices is silencing the ability to reflectively listen, necessitating the need to fake actively listening.
      4. Listen as you would have others listen to you.  This is an adaptation of the “Golden Rule” and remains applicable as a personal choice.  How you choose to listen will determine your destiny.
      5. Listening remains the number one tool you control and has application to written communication and verbal communication channels.  Body language is a non-verbal communication channel that can be heard as well as seen.  How are you communicating non-verbally which is interfering with your written and verbal communication attempts?

Leadership CartoonListening is a choice.  Listening is hard.  Yet, many people have pointed out that we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as often as we speak.  Choose to reflectively listen, choose to reach a mutual understanding, watch society change.  It has been said that the US Constitution will hang by a thread, rule of law and the American Republic hang upon our decisions to listen appreciatively to each other and to stop allowing petty divisions to destroy ourselves, our families, and our American society.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.
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