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Rights – Thoughts for 2008



Editor: Despite an increased focus on human rights throughout the world, religious and political intolerance still hold sway in many countries. This is evident through many verbal threats, and even physical harm, on the lives of persons, simply because they hold differing views on political and religious issues.{{more}}

An awareness of and a respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of each individual preserve any society. The following points and explanations should be seriously considered to understand how Rights-Consciousness aids in the preservation of our society.

  • It points to the Originator of Rights and therefore gives people knowledge of the Creator and the high and holy regards they ought to have for the rights of their fellowmen. There will be a strong realization that to interfere with or violate another man’s rights will be to sin against God Himself, since He is the giver of rights.

For example, it will be clearly seen that to maliciously take another person’s life (murder) is totally against God, since the right to life is a sacred God-given endowment only to be forfeited by the due process of law.

  • This working knowledge throughout every facet of society will curb violent, unjust, harsh and inconsiderate actions in man-woman, parent-child, friend-friend, teacher-student, employer-employee relationship. Each relation above can be carefully examined to comprehend how rights-consciousness can eliminate many behavioural and anti-social problems. For example, understanding that a student’s items (bags, pens, and pencils) are his private possessions, should cause another student to not even think of violating or attacking that student’s right to life, through fighting to acquire his private property.
  • It puts a halt on tyrannical systems. One only has to investigate and reflect on the anti-rights and inhumane behaviours of world known dictators like Stalin and Lenin, whose attitude and actions only served to sink societies deep in terror and violence.
  • In the past, countries like the USA have experienced spiritual and physical prosperity (sadly that is changing today), due to the great emphasis, understanding and propagation of respect for fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals. Unlike the tyrannical leaders, sound-minded and pro-right men like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams et al promoted the happiness of the citizens of their country, resulting from the respect to the rights of their fellowmen( see American Declaration of Independence 1776)
  • The promotion of more just economic principles and more government policies and plans upholding and protecting the rights of the citizens. Government officials will therefore not seek to enact laws that violate, in any way, people’s freedoms, for example freedom of speech.
  • Tolerance will be heightened in people’s mind and practiced. A person will know that he can strongly criticize and disagree with others without being slanderous, libelous or violent in his behavior. Quite often, criticism by citizens serves as checks on government actions, ensuring that they are kept in line. Religious criticism also ensures that ‘Dark Age’ actions are not repeated by any religious organization/s which think/s it is their duty to rule over the consciences of any man.

It is extremely important that principles of rights and freedoms be so engraved in people’s mind that it becomes second nature or habitual for them to consider how they uphold the rights of their fellowmen as they relate daily. This will certainly and practically make for a better, happier, more tolerant and prosperous society. This is truly how the success of a society should be measured, not primarily by economics, but by the high and sacrosanct regard to individual rights and freedoms. May all Vincentians become more right-conscious by God’s grace as we seek to address many problems including the increase in brutal crimes for year 2008 and onwards.

Ann-Marie John