Rights Are Natural

People have rights. You don’t need any religious faith to believe this. Some people think their rights come from God, others believe they are rooted in “natural law.” In either case, the most fundamental right is life itself. Our lives are our own.

Rights must sometimes be defended. That is why we have developed this institution known as “government.” We delegate it some of our individual authority so that it can secure our rights from those who might wish to take them away. The government’s power is limited to those that citizens freely choose to give it.

When the government decides to take for itself powers that are contrary to the natural rights that people possess, such as life, it is the right - and some would say the duty - of the people to alter or abolish that government, replacing it with one that respects individual rights.

Does any of this sound controversial? Many folks will take issue with that last part about altering or abolishing the government. They shouldn't. You see, all I've done above is paraphrase something I first read a long time ago:

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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government...

Some will argue that, as a slave owner, Thomas Jefferson was obviously a hypocrite to talk about "liberty." Maybe so - but he was a hypocrite only because he was correct.

So now, 230 years later, where do we stand? Is our government defending our rights or destroying them? If the latter, we have work to do.

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