Freedom and rights are hard concepts to understand. Most people are under the impression that each of these represent things that should be given to them. “I have the right to have a house or a new iPhone or whatever medical care I need therefore you must give it to me.”. But those are not rights. Those are desires. You have the right to purchase any of those things and no one should be able to infringe on your rights to work hard and accomplish things, but that is not the same as being given something.
As people we have the right to be left alone and to do as we please. The choices we make then decide the life that we lead. This has become completely turned around by everyone. Most people in our society and in every political party seems to think that freedom means doing whatever one wants without consequence and rights are to have whatever they choose without the needs to work for them.
Growing up my father always said that the job of a parent was to raise children to be independent. Children who can take care of themselves after the parent is gone, and hopefully take care of the parent after they are no longer able to care for themself. That’s freedom. Not having to depend on others. That’s rights, being free to make decisions that enable you to be free, and all of it is hard.
Now, just to be clear. I am not opposed to social programs. I live in Massachusetts, and we even have a socialized healthcare program that was put forth by Mitt Romney about 20 years ago and has been working pretty well ever since. I am quite liberal on many of these subjects, but they are not rights. No one has the right to food that they didn’t grow or buy themselves. No one has the right to someone else’s labor. However, if in a specific community people decide that they want to help out their fellow neighbors in need with programs they choose to pay into that is also freedom, and their right to do so. The right to do what they wish with the benefits of one’s own labor is a right, and a freedom. Someone who feels they are in power over the people telling them they must give up their labor to someone else is extortion.
The flip side of this is cancel culture. The act of looking for anything that someone has ever done that was questionable and then spreading it to everyone possible in order to ruin someone. Those who believe in cancel culture say that it’s all fair because with freedom comes consequences and actions have consequences, which is true. The actions themselves do, but, for instance, the teenage girl who used the “N” word while quoting a rap song to tell another white friend she got driver’s license when she was 16 years old and then was not allowed into the college of her choice years later because someone held onto that information for the perfect strategic moment to inflict as much damage as possible is a classic example of the actions and consequences not matching. The girl didn’t use the word with racist intent, and she was a child when she said it with a very limited understanding of the world and the rules that go with it. This may have been a teaching moment at most, but not a nuclear bomb to her life moment.
Today we are seeing a serious push against freedom everywhere we look. We are seeing people’s speech being censored, we are seeing places of worship being shut down, we are seeing people’s jobs and right to work being eliminated, and we’re seeing all of this under the guise of “leaders” keeping us safe. We are being told that we have no RIGHT to know what our children are being taught in schools, and that we have no RIGHT to speak out against those who are in power regardless of whether or not we are correct in our assertions or not.
We are told that our safety takes priority and that those in charge are the ones to make that decision. That is not how this country was designed. That is not what our forefathers fought for, that’s not what anyone agreed to when they chose to move here from wherever they came. This country was settled by people who were willing to fight and die for the lives they chose to live. It doesn’t matter which settlers we’re talking about. Whether it be the settlers who came over from Asia for thousands of years, the Europeans who came over for hundreds of years, or the many other groups who are still fighting to come over today.
The Asians (now called Native Americans or First Nations or whatever new term of the month it is) and the Europeans came over and dealt with harsh weather, new species of animals, and which ever groups of people had come before them. Most people died. Thousands of tribes of Natives were made extinct before the Europeans even knew this place existed, and hundreds of settlements never made it through a winter once they did, but group after group still come.
Today we see caravans of people walking thousands of miles from South America. We see families risking life and limb in shark infested oceans to just set foot on our shores to gain the freedoms we take for granted. Millions of Africans, Asians, and Arabs have come in the last hundred years knowing that they have to learn the language and the new customs to fit in with our society and they welcome the opportunity, because they know that our society isn’t easy, but if they work hard their children and their children’s children will have a better life here.
Freedom and Rights are not about the to stay safe or the right to never die. Freedom and Rights are about making choices that fit your life and no one stopping you, especially not the government you employ to protect your rights. If you want more privileges, then by all means ask for them. Talk to your communities about sharing the responsibilities for those who can’t or those who won’t, but don’t pretend it’s your right to control someone else or to take the fruits of their labor. That’s just theft, and you have no right to that.