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On Rights

Here in the states our constitution guarantees us the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are considered to be god-given, which is the first of many problems I have with these so-called rights.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about living in a country where we have great freedoms. I do believe that the freedoms of individuals deserve some protection. But that doesn't mean we have a right to them. Because if rights are God-given, and there is no God, there are no rights, either. No right to life. We're lucky to be alive and we make the best of it while we can.

So we assert our right to liberty as justification of it. All this liberty certainly does cause trouble for the powers that be. What a mess. But is there a justification, morally, for allowing individual freedoms? When humans were evolving in tribes, we subverted our individual wills to the tribes, for the purpose of group survival. Maybe we'd be more happy if we lived in tribal units now. I sure would love to have a tribe. I need some backup.

And this right to The Pursuit of Happiness. Wow. What if my happiness demands that I exterminate YOU? You can see how problematic it is, right up front. And so I have a right to life, and so does everyone else in this country under this constitution, but people outside this country---do THEY have right to life? Because if my right to pursue happiness outweighs their right to life, we have a problem here. In MY morality.

Then there's the whole Right to Life movement, which espouses forcing young women have unwanted children. The Right to Lifers are some of the same people who have been encouraging Shrub to nuke the Mideast back to glass, so I don't trust their version of rights or their definition of Life.

Aren't unwanted children the ones that commit suicide later? Seem to me the last thing we want to do is have more children in this world without someone to teach them to be fine human beings.
Good parenting is far more essential to the stability of a culture than giving birth. Banning abortion would increase the population of unwanted children, and put more cracks in the foundation of our reality.

Suicide is an especially sticky problem because it runs across these "rights" and a whole lot more. If we have a right to life, should we have a right to end it? Are we responsible for this life or aren't we? Suicide is considered deviant but why? Is the society exerting some desire to keep us for the labor we would have contributed? Is society trying to protect our families? What if we are so unhappy that death is in line with pursuit of happiness?

Walker Percy argued in an essay long ago that we should contemplate suicide every day. We should look at that back door, and see that we could always go out that way. If we wanted to. And no law can touch us. You can't punish a dead person. And I personally have taken a good hard look at that door lots of times. I have always chosen to life. But for me, it is comforting knowing that I am driving this body, and I am responsible for this life. I chose it. And if I have a right to it, that's great, but I'll fight for it regardless.

So if a person doesn't bother to use their "right" to free speech, nobody cares. It's OK to keep your flap trap shut. It's OK to not post your big fat opinion all over the internet. In fact, in MY culture at least, people consider it indiscrete to say too much. It's certainly not OK to violate solidarity and criticize your own country. So with speech, nobody's going to come down on you for not using that freedom.

The right to life is different. You're expected to live. If you decide you don't want to live, people think you're all wrong in the head and you need treatment. Drugs. Constraints. Mustn't let anyone kill themselves. It's a failure somehow.

I have had friends who suicided. And when they did, I just had to say goodbye and I'm glad I knew you while you lived. I didn't feel guilty. I knew what they were up against. And I can't say that it would have gotten better. I just don't know. Some lives just keep getting worse.

Like my terrible neighbor who just yelled at me from her car as she drove in. She is miserable and her hate for me is getting aggressive. My heart is beating harder already. She arouses a stress response in me. So she slammed things around, sighed and huffed and puffed, said "I'm sick of you" to me down the hall, and then shut herself in her room. She doesn't like that I have my doors open. She likes me to be shut up in my little room.

This post partly inspired by gavin6942 who is currently working on an essay about suicide.

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