Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities

Rights Responsiblities2There seems to be a general clamoring, grasping and hungry dissatisfaction that infects so many individual people across the world. It spreads like a virus from one of us to the other. We often urge each other to carry this misplaced longing for more into the streets, the media, our politics, driving each other to anger and, often to acts of hate or at least unkindness and inconsideration.

I feel in my heart that we all hold the light of God inside of us. None are separate from this, as far as I can see, though some chose to hold themselves as separate. In my eyes, if we all carry the light of God, then we all are the same. Kindness and love are for all, without question.

Most everyone seems to feel that they have had rights taken away and many feel inner shame for taking the rights of others, though the latter are usually too defensive to admit it. In the end, it seems that people everywhere are mad as hell about the whole “rights” and “freedom” issue, regardless of their gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, or anything else.

That leads to a whole lot of people pushing against each other. That is not the same thing as loving each other or being kind. It is not the same thing as recognizing the light of God in ourselves and each other. Whenever you hear someone say, “I have the right to fill in the blank“, that is said from a place of victimhood and anger. It is said with indignation.

I don’t deny that there are injustices. They are everywhere. But becoming reactionary certainly doesn’t resolve that. Many of the greatest injustices are created either by those who have forgotten their own inner light or by those who refuse to recognize it.

When you find yourself using your rights to do or say something unkind, even if you really do have the legal right, maybe it is a good time to consider the other person’s rights, even if only for a moment. Or even more importantly, consider the larger ramifications of the thing you are about to say or do. How will it impact you? How will it impact the other person or the people around you? Does it have possible larger consequences for society or for your family? Every action you do and every word you speak ripples out beyond your immediate sphere. It has an effect on others far beyond what you see right in front of you.

The right to worship as we choose does not mean that we are ought to mock those who don’t choose to worship as we do. It means that we are all free to perceive the world, ourselves and God in whatever way makes sense to us, without forcing those views upon others. That implies respect of each other’s views and an allowance that they will differ. If that respect is present, violence has no need to rear its head.

It may be true that we have the right to express ourselves freely, but does that mean we have to use that right to scornfully condemn or mock another? To use shame to control what another does? We can choose simply express who we are respectfully, with love, honor and dignity for ourselves and all others. We can honor the fact that everyone else has the right to express themselves freely, too. Even if we don’t like what or how they express. Otherwise we are only choosing this freedom for ourselves, not for others.

Maybe a law has given you the right to express yourself in a way that allows you to say cruel things to another, to mock them and ridicule them. Maybe you have the legal right to even say that you want them dead, as long as you make it clear that you are joking or you do it within a creative context. Does this mean it is not hurtful or even frightening for that person or group of people? It would be for me, especially if this was done by a large group of people. This is bullying, not love. It does not honor our inner light. This is one person using their “rights” to violate the rights of another.

How many times in the last 20 to 30 years have you witnessed violence erupting because a person or group of people felt they had to push back because their rights were being violated? Particularly their rights of speech, expression or religion. If you look at the larger picture, how many times has it been because of situations just like the one I just described?

A group standing for their right for something can become very indignant and that can lead to irrational decisions. Our egos get in the way when we are stuck in being right and proving it. We lose sight of the bigger picture and of other people. We forget how to be kind. There are often much more important things than our rights. Like the rights of us all. Like simply being loving and patient and gentle with each soul on this planet instead of running with the belief that any of us have the right to trample on any of the others. Even if they trample us first.

Having the belief that we have to kill or be killed leads to us all treating each other like crap, every day. It leads to more death, war and chaos. There is no chance, ever, for light to come in and let something new grow. We have had a long rampage of destruction, hate and oppression in the world. The only way to stop that and turn it to something new is to be different inside ourselves and in the way we treat each other.

We have to start looking for what we can give to each other and move away from the attitude of concerning ourselves with what others may be trying to take from us. We have to look for opportunities to show compassion and to see the soul of our fellow human, rather than find opportunities to close our hearts and turn away. We have to do the best we can to see the fear that drives us, and recognize that it’s the same fear that drives our fellow human as well. We are not different inside, though we may live our lives in different ways.

We will not all get to the place where we can honor each other’s inner light at once. Try not to concern yourself too much with those who aren’t there yet. That puts you back in the mindset of believing someone else needs to change and the whole cycle starts again. Change yourself and your behaviors. Others will follow. This may be our greatest responsibility to ourselves and to each other. Rights don’t work very well or last very long without honoring that.

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