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Where does "individual rights" rank in your most closely held beliefs?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by rock jock, Dec 26, 2002.

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Where do your liberty and individual rights rank in your personal belief system?

Poll closed Jan 5, 2003.
  1. My rights and liberty are the most important idea in my belief system

    42 vote(s)
    80.8%
  2. Rights and liberty are very important, but are not the central tenet of my belief system

    10 vote(s)
    19.2%
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  1. rock jock

    rock jock Member

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    I don't want to start a catfight with this thread, but I am curious because of the wide range of life philosophies/religions represented on this board where the issue of individual rights/liberty ranks in your personal belief system. Is it more or less important than, say, family/interpersonal relationships, inner peace, religious beliefs, etc.? Please don't let this digress into a locked thread. I think it is a legitimate question and can be answered with mutual respect.
     
  2. Chris Rhines

    Chris Rhines Member

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    On a scale of one to ten-thousand, individual rights and liberties rank a one. Nothing else gets above 9000.

    Clear enough, eh?

    - Chris
     
  3. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    To me?

    Without one, the other is drab and pointless...
     
  4. incursion

    incursion Member

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    That is a tough question. Rights seem to be more abstract than family/relationships. Religion is abstract as well. I know what should be first, but in reality I probably rank them in this order:

    Family
    God
    Rights
     
  5. rock jock

    rock jock Member

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    Incursion,

    That would be my top three also, but in a slightly different order.
     
  6. grampster
    • Contributing Member

    grampster Member

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    A belief system has to spring from something. Christianity, for example, teaches that God has written His laws on your heart. At some point in life one will be confronted with or become aware of this knowledge and decisions will be made. Some of those decisions will evolve quietly and unobtrusively. Other decisions will be more overt. Some of us will pay close attention to what goes on around us. Others will be oblivious to much of what goes on. Individual rights and liberty are tenous principals and become more so when people are not grounded in some sort of a moral belief system, and they don't pay attention to what goes on around them. Without a moral grounding individual rights can quickly become narcissism or worse. Personal freedom at that point becomes a danger to everyone else. That is why a society of laws is much preferrable to one of men, and an historical perspective becomes important. Some say that a religious belief is not necessary for a moral standard. I cannot speak to that as that is not my belief system. I do find it hard to grasp that it is possible with large groups of people, however. I think not many would succeed at such self control with no center other than self.

    The Western Judaeo/Christian heritage seems, to my observation anyway, to pay closer attention to fundamental personal rights and how they are held as they relate to the overall well being of the society in general and the acceptance of diverse points of view. In other words, over time, our Western culture has evolved into a rather polite society (though imperfect) that well receives the governance of people by laws rather than force of arms. Very noble and has worked well for over 200 years. Perhaps the Judeao/Christian ethic, which subjects us to a Higher Power that is Just, causes us to be less willing to be murderous and selfish and judgmental in our dealings with each other. At the same time we revel in self criticism and are willing to accomodate change, as well as revering our core principals: ie The Constitution and BoR. (Some of us do anyway)

    Although I worry that the dumbing down of our society is leading to a rather nasty confrontation at some point in the future because we are not learning the importance and necessity of some common ground. Multiculturism, which is at its core, actually divisive, as it celebrates our differences rather than our commonality, is the beginning of this path to confrontationism. The Balkanization of America is underway, I fear. It will take a bit of time, but perhaps the evolution of communication, such as the internet and recent creation of conservative mass media outlets will serve to rekindle the importance of the American culture (regardless of from where it springs) and begin to re draw us together by teaching the new ones among us, and reminding the old ones, that it is better for us to be united and American rather than hyphenated and divided: That our American history is an important platform from which to learn and spring ahead, bolder and better.

    So, perhaps a combination of a spiritual grounding along with a good historical perspective of what has worked and what has not will, in the end, bring forth a stronger and better America where our liberty and freedom is found alive and well.

    End of Propundiation

    Grampster


    :D
     
  7. Giant

    Giant Member

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    Without personal rights and liberty nothing else is possible, not family, job, nothing! To live as a slave is to be already dead.

    Giant
     
  8. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Member In Memoriam

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    God's number 1. Being a systems guy at the core of my being, that this whole universe right down to the smallest imaginable part of it exists, works, and is sustained proves to me that an unbelievably powerful intelligence created it and sustains it. That's what I want on my side, so that's got to rank first. (And no, I don't pretend to understand God, but I'm trying....)

    Second is my family, and not just those I'm related to by blood or law. Nearly anybody is eligible, and a friend is family.

    My individual rights are inherently mine, and they're like property to use and enjoy. I'm obligated to protect them by the power and wisdom given to me by God for my benefit and the benefit of my family.
     
  9. pax

    pax Member

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    Hmmm, how odd.

    I can't actually answer the question. It seems fairly straightforward, but upon analysis I find that the question itself presumes some things that I am not willing to stipulate.

    My belief in the utter importance of respect for human rights, flows out of my religious beliefs. And yet, I cannot say that my religious beliefs are "more important than" my respect for human rights, for if they were, then I could trample on other people's rights in the name of my beliefs. That's utter nonsense, because my beliefs completely forbid that sort of thing (and not as an external thing either, but as part of the very structure and nature of my faith, of my self).

    Call it a chicken-and-egg sort of dilemma.

    pax

    A chicken and an egg checked into a cheap hotel. Fifteen minutes later, the chicken was leaning back against the pillows, smoking a cigarette and looking contented. "Well!" said the egg sardonically. "I guess that answers that question."
     
  10. MitchSchaft

    MitchSchaft member

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    I'll second Blackhawk's post. That's how I feel.
     
  11. Mark Benningfield

    Mark Benningfield Member

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    Tough Question

    Hello All.

    Rock Jock:

    I voted for "not the most important" because I have to put faith in God number one. But, after that, I with the good old dead guys who pledged their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor." As for whether my rights are more important than my family, I pray that I never have to make that call, because I think I would go along with Socrates in Plato's "Apology".
     
  12. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    Well said, Blackhawk!
     
  13. rock jock

    rock jock Member

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    pax,

    I understand what you mean. Maybe this question will help clarify the issue: can you envision voluntarily surrendering your liberty in response to your devotion to any other thing (be it God, family, whatever)? If you can, then that particular thing is more important. For me, personally, I look at the example of Christ. Certainly he could have responded to persecution by saying "Hey, no way am I going to put up these false accusations. Peter, give me your sword so I can defend myself." But, he didn't. Now, I don't believe for one second that Christ would preach that people have no right to self-defense. But He gave up that right voluntarily because His other beliefs were of greater import. Now, someone else can use another example completely unrelated to any religious figure (and BTW, please don't comment on the authenticity of the Bible or of this story because it is not really germane to this issue at hand - it is simply my own personal illustration), but the point remains the same - is there anything in your life which you value more highly than your own liberty?
     
  14. pax

    pax Member

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    Rock jock,

    Good clarifying question. The answer is yes, I can easily envisage situations wherein I would voluntarily lay down my liberty, in service to Christ. (Did you ever read Uncle Tom's Cabin? Uncle Tom was the only character in the whole book that was truly FREE -- and few people have ever really understood that point in the book, especially those who are not Christians. 'Uncle Tom' becomes synonymous with 'sucking up' to the power groups, synonymous with trampled humanity, but so few people ever really see the triumph and the ultimate freedom in the choices that he made.) In any case, yes, I can see surrendering my liberty voluntarily, in the name of Christ.

    However, it gets sticky when we talk about laying down a 'right' to liberty. Without getting too far into that other thread (where'd the rights come from?) -- I have to say that rights, by their very definition, are inalienable. The right itself simply cannot be laid down, because (if it is truly a right), it is intrinsic to being human and cannot be separated from what it means to be human. Btw, that's what 'inalienable' means -- that the thing in question cannot be made alien to your nature, that it is a part of your nature. So to say that you have laid down your right to freedom, is as nonsensical as saying that you have decided not to be human anymore.

    Of course, you can always voluntarily choose not to exercise a right. But, because it is part of your very nature as a human being, you still have the right, regardless of whether you choose to exercise it.

    All that aside, let me point out (for the Christians here -- you pagans and atheists and wiccans and Jews are on your own!) that Christ will never require of us, that which is evil. You may find, one day, that He calls you to lay down your life or your freedom. But you will never find that He calls you to surrender the life or freedom of another. That choice is not yours to make, and that life and that freedom is not yours to give.

    pax

    When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. -- Dietrich Bonhoffer
     
  15. 45King

    45King Member

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    God created it all, and everything good that exists flows from Him. All the rights, all the freedom, everything...we owe it all to Him.

    If He had not wanted us to be creatures of free will and choice, He would have made us differently.

    I see defending rights and liberty as defending God's choice for us. To me, belief in God and belief in rights and liberty are inseperable.
     
  16. Dennis

    Dennis Member

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    Pax,

    Are individual rights/liberty “… more or less important than, say, family/interpersonal relationships, inner peace, religious beliefs, etc.?â€

    If I ask you, “Which is more important to you, water or air?†The answer probably would be air because of its more immediate need. However, you will die a horrible death in a short time without water. If given both (but only) air and water you will die a horrible death in weeks without food or even sooner from exposure or other causes.

    Liberty (Natural Rights) and the responsibilities which come with Liberty are so intermingled with values of all kinds (including relationships among family, friends, our state and other states) as to be inseparable.

    Dr. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has been both debunked and supported by others, but there is much food for thought there. Obviously one must survive to address other needs. And physiological needs (e.g. air, food, water, shelter, etc.) must be addressed before being concerned what strangers in other counties (or parishes) think of our politics, etc.

    But one glimmer of hope is that more and more people are learning that our Rights can be addressed individually, but our Rights exist only because we ensure those Rights for all—not a select few. Therefore, we must ensure we extend Natural Rights to the members of our families and to others with whom we interact or there can be NO “inner peace.†Interestingly, most religious beliefs express this concept in their version of what we call “The Golden Rule.†Moral atheists typically consider the same concept valid for other reasons.

    Also, on a continuum which has Liberty (Natural Rights) at the right extreme and total slavery (people are treated as livestock to be bred, used, abused and killed in accordance with some “authority’s†perceived value system) at the left extreme are two points of interest:
    1) Near the right extreme is a point of recognized but slight inconvenience.
    2) Nearer the left extreme is the flashpoint where people are willing to fight and die to restore lost Natural Rights.

    Those two points are of great import to rulers—including those in Washington—as they continually struggle to move both those points to the left.

    But that’s for other discussions.
     
  17. King

    King Member

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    What Blackhawk said..........
     
  18. seeker_two

    seeker_two Member

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    1. God & Jesus
    2. Family
    3. Liberty & Rights
    4. Loyalty to my country
    5. Everything else...
     
  19. rock jock

    rock jock Member

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    pax,

    OK, some good points. But, I would differ on the idea of whether one can actually lay down their rights. For example, in Biblical times and even until very recently in history, it was not uncommon to find bondservents. Now, we see this term used in the Bible, but from a historical persepctive, what does it mean? It means that a person voluntarily offered themselves in servitude to another. The period of servitude was typically for life and the only person that could release the bondservent from their servitude was their master. So, the bondservent was essentially laying aside their right to freedom and liberty in order to serve another. Now, they may have done this for any number of reasons. Perhaps they did so they could gain freedom or financial security for their family, or perhaps they loved their master so much they did it as a sign of devotion. But, I don't think you could say that they were simply choosing not to exercise their right to freedom since this implies that they could take it back up when in fact they could not. The distinction is perhaps one of commitment. It also reveals the priorities of a person. I think most of us, or hopefully all of us, on this board would find in general the idea of giving up their liberty so repugnant that they would rather die. However, I can envision certain scenarios when I would do just that. Those scenarios are very limited and involve one of my higher priorities. Some people do not recognize any higher priority than their liberty, some do.
     
  20. Blackhawk

    Blackhawk Member In Memoriam

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    Well said, Dennis!

    The circle of needs cannot be broken.
     
  21. Trisha

    Trisha Member

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    wincing...

    Inherent rights and responsibilities, and liberty; haggard and torn and bloodsoaked though that reality must remain.

    I am a pagan, from the oral tradfition of my people (I am a Karelian Finn, first generation American - Mongolian ancestry, to those interested). I hold little affection to patriarchial religion that embraced the slaughter of millions of women - even entire villages - to create their authority.

    (wincing as the burning brand delves into the hornet's nest deeper....)

    Yes, I recognise that our Republic was founded on a Judeao-Christian concept - but we celebrate diversity within these shores. Did we not, we would be implicitly agreeing with the Taliban!

    I celebrate the diversity I see here with my eternal and renewed spirit!

    This reality of courtesy and dignity is the essence and the bedrock of what makes us all, absolutely American!

    For I will lay down my life defending each and any of you should calamity threaten one or all within my sphere of influence, albeit directly or immediately without hesitation, top the utter ruination of any and all evil that may commit efforts to prevail.

    (smiling warmly)

    That's why I love sharing time at the range with others who only see joy and honesty in my eyes: we share a belief in our mutual inherent rights first!

    Hugs!

    Trisha
     
  22. rock jock

    rock jock Member

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    Trisha,

    While that was certainly some colorful prose, I could not tell what your answer to the question was.
     
  23. Dennis

    Dennis Member

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    Rock,

    (If I may be so bold, Trisha) I believe she is saying we do not have to hold identical beliefs toward a diety to share devout belief in Liberty and its inherent obligations to protect Liberty--even for those with whom we disagree.

    And that, dear friends, is the essence of Liberty. ;)

    Trisha, may I assume then that to categorize Liberty above one's other beliefs does not diminish the importance of those other beliefs?

    (I would believe it is so. :) )
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2002
  24. Trisha

    Trisha Member

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    Yes, Dennis:

    If we arise from inherent strength and self-actualization, what we are and who we are coalesces into the reality of being Americans.

    I see no disparity or degree of separation, even for the athiest who bases absolute existence on science - for then only the light of their life stands against the fathomless dark of the cosmos.

    Hugs!

    Trisha
     
  25. m.i.sanders

    m.i.sanders Member

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    While individual rights are one of my core beliefs, and one that I will vigorously defend, there are circumstances were I would surrender them if I had no discernible choice to do otherwise. If I needed to protect my family, I would not hesitate. I would also give them up if I had to in order to defend my faith and my country. But in so doing, I am making a choice, and in making my choice, I am still free.
     
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