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November 29, 2015 / Congau


You have rights. That is an undeniable fact, because it is written down in the laws of your country. The state promises to protect you, and it is usually reasonable to expect a promise to be kept. Even if the government would promise you something quite ridiculous, free candies say, that item becomes your right. There is nothing inherently moral about a right. It should be respected, not because it belongs to you as a native possession, but because it has been given you as a part of a system where you are a participant. The state should keep its promises, as should anyone else, and that is the only moral element of your rights.

But this, of course, is not the way rights are generally perceived. They seem to be seen as free gifts that have come from nowhere, but still belong to you from your birth. But how can that be? The fact that you were born doesn’t imply anything else. You were born, and then so what? Logically your birth in itself doesn’t give you a right to life, let alone to anything else.

Only if you see your own feeble existence as a part of a greater scheme, is it possible to think in terms of rights and law. A ruler of the universe, a god, must be introduced to place it all within a system. If God has granted you rights, then you have rights, just as the state or any other power may be able to give you rights.

But the modern secular world is not allowed to presume a god. Therefore to be able to speak in universally acceptable categories, we must disregard the possibility of a universal lawgiver. Further, where there is no lawgiver, there is no law, and where there is no law, there is no right.

You may be happy that you were born, but that sheer fact gives you no reason to expect or demand anything else. Just because you were lucky and won the lottery, that cannot give you the right to make demands. On the contrary, one might think, you should be grateful for what you already have and not ask for more.

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