Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
Know Your Rights!
One cannot travel far or for very long without seeing a bill-board admonishing you to “Know Your Rights!” Normally, these bill-boards are advertising the services of a legal service seeking to help you make sure you are not infringed upon.
In America, we feel that we are entitled to certain things just by our citizenship. We believe that America is a land of opportunity, of equal opportunity for all. We believe in individual liberty, liberty to live our own lives without coercion from neighbors or government.
One of the most famous and most important documents in American history is our Declaration of Independence. In it we find this statement -
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Right to Life
This would seem to be pretty self explanatory. As an American citizen we have confidence that our life will not be taken from us. I realize that there must be justice in the case of a crime, but as a general rule, if you are a living human being you should have the privilege of continuing life as best you can.
In my opinion, this applies to all ages, from conception.
Right to Liberty
It is instructive to read the entire Declaration of Independence occasionally. The King of England had gone to great lengths to force his will on the populations of North America, and had severely infringed on the liberties of his subjects. Some of the specific complaints included cutting off trade, making the military above the law, denying trial by jury, deporting people to be tried for imagined offences, and taxation without consent.
In fact, many of the rights listed in our Bill of Rights are ones that had been infringed by the King of England. The Bill of Rights was intended to insure that our government does not become overly invasive into private life.
The Pursuit of Happiness
I have always found it interesting that our founding fathers did not consider Happiness to be an unalienable right. Rather, they considered the PURSUIT of happiness to be a right of every individual. Some of the implications from this, in our society, could be staggering.
- I do not have a right to a new car, home, boat, entertainment system, etc. without earning and paying for them.
- I do not have a right to eat out, travel, or attend concerts and sporting events unless I can afford to pay for them.
- I do not have a right to a new phone, new outfit, or a dream vacation unless I can pay for them.
On the other hand, I do have the right to work hard, save my money, and improve my situation in life through wise use of my money. I do have the right to use (or waste) my time as I see fit. However, I must also bear the consequences if I choose to waste my time.
Wishing you a successful pursuit,