I am not real big on people’s rights.
Correction: I am not big on the rights people think that they have.
It turns out that the popular thing nowadays is to assume that feelings need to be validated by way of civil rights.
Before I get ahead of myself, I would like to clarify that I am a huge supporter of freedom. This should be obvious based on the fact that I spent five years in the United States military.
The two concepts are not synonymous. Unfortunately, they are being misconstrued as such.
To define a right is risky indeed. The dictionary refers to a ‘right’ under the noun category as a “just claim or title”. ‘Just’ being the key word there. This means that any individual will be entitled to the same rights. I hasten to follow that up with the clarification: a claim is simply that, a ‘claim’. It is the ability to self-identify as anyone sees fit. It is the opportunity for anyone to say, “This is what I believe. This is who I am.” However, a claim is not an automatic pass to fulfill an individual’s emotional needs. It is merely the ability to self-identify without persecution.
I feel that it is necessary to identify ‘persecution’ as “persistent harassment, and/or oppressive treatment”. At risk of sounding redundant, persecution is not a component of emotion. Just because someone claims to be persecuted doesn’t mean that persecution is actually taking place. There are actual guidelines to persecution: namely, it is the attempt to exterminate. Persecution is not boundaries. The people who have established boundaries in their lives can identify with how important they are. Without them, chaos would take over as everyone would be able to run amock. The people that cannot identify with the importance of boundaries are usually claiming to be persecuted, when they are the ones, in actuality, committing the offense. Yes, this can be a slippery slope. But this is also why there are boundaries; to be able to identify when actual persecution is taking place, as opposed to when an offense is being had.
Before I circulate back to the concept of boundaries, and also persecution, the issue of ‘offense’ needs to be addressed. The problem at hand is that offense has become a ‘right’.
In actuality, offense is a choice.
People from all over the world, of all religions, of all lifestyles, become offended, and decide that their offense needed to be unoffended. The betrayal of offense is that it only leads to another. If it is one’s ‘right’ to be offended, it is everyone else’s to simply not care. To insist with agreement in regards to specific personal convictions is an automatic disregard of others. This is why there are boundaries.
When So and So becomes offended, they often feel the need to publicize their offense. This has become the simplest thing in the world to do, thanks to social media. How many times do you see on Facebook what So and So believes to be offensive? More often than not, it conflicts with other viewpoints, which is probably the thrill in making such a post to begin with. After all, this is a free country, right? Surprisingly, the 120 characters of a Tweet are just enough to mass produce a complaint. Texts are a shameless way to vent without needing to be face to face.
Therefore, everyone else must become offended, either on behalf of the offended, or because they disagree with the view being broadcasted. Retaliations are made. Retaliations to retaliations are made. Enormous amounts of people have gotten involved, enormous amounts of energy have been expended, and sometimes it all leads to an enormous amount of money being spent, too. This angst could have been avoided.
No, really, it could have.
It has to do with humility, and it has to do with compassion.
The fact of the matter is that people experience life differently. They feel life differently. They see life differently. The destruction one can bring on others by choosing to live in a bubble can be devastating.
We can pride ourselves into thinking that we are a liberated and open-minded people. The stark truth is that we aren’t. There is still a protestant attitude, across the board. It is easy to tell when an individual is fighting a battle because they think they are being daring and forward-thinking, or ‘sticking to their guns’, or even because they are just trying to belong to something, or to be liked. Those people that refer to themselves as ‘liberal’ are actually just living a giant double standard, and back-pedaling the progress they think they are making. It is hypocrisy at its basest to claim that individuals have a ‘right’ to believe what they want, and make decisions as they see fit, AND anyone who is in disagreement is a hypocrite.
The people clinging desperately to their ‘old-school’ standards have refused to develop as the world has developed. I am not talking about sacrificing a moral conviction, which happens far too often. I am talking about not expecting everyone to live according to the same standards. Personally, I am true to my core beliefs, and I am not ashamed of them, or apologetic of them. I do not expect to be harassed because of this, and I do not harass anyone else for what their own life looks life. I need to be the best ‘me’ that I can be, and leave it at that. We have all grown up under different cultures, religions, and guidelines, and to expect everyone to follow yours or mine is what leads to behavior that ultimately infringes on someone else’s time, space and, frankly, peace of mind. That is what persecution is born of. One would think that there are enough examples in history to be taken from…
Here’s a concept: we don’t all have to be in agreement.
No, we really don’t.
‘Freedom of speech’ is the ability to say what one believes in, and why, and that one disagrees with someone else if that be the case. Freedom of speech does not grant anyone the liberty to harass anyone else, especially if someone disagrees. I believe that we live in a world where harassment is seen as a ‘right’. It is in movies, and music, and all over media across the world. Everywhere, someone is badmouthing someone else because they aren’t doing something they agree with. There is no support for docility and humility. Everything has become a war, and therefore real war is greatly misunderstood.
It can be argued that such is the dichotomy of freedom of speech, but I disagree. When something is destructive, it should not be ignored. In a nutshell, it debases humanity when anyone claims that blasphemy, hate speech, and defamation are lumped in with freedom. There is an obvious difference between saying that one does not agree with homosexual unions, and saying that (slur) are detestable and disgusting human beings. It is just as much a gay person’s right to be gay as it is for an individual to not agree with that lifestyle.
To recap the key points: a right is a person’s opportunity to self-identify without being persecuted; freedom is the ultimate right to disagree with someone else’s self-identity; and while harassment is never okay, people have taken to taking offense and expect the rest of the world to meet their emotional needs.
If people can self-identify as they fit, without fear of being murdered for practicing their religion, or being run out of town for the color of their skin, or being rejected socially for their lifestyle (in so much as no one else is being harmed), than where do boundaries fit in?
After all, freedom is not telling other people what to do, right?
Actually, no. To be quite honest, sometimes it just has to be established what can and can’t be done.
Any parent, any leader, any person of moral conviction knows that.
When we become too lenient with the definition of rights, we begin to overstep onto another person’s rights, and the natural order of things begins to become confused. Confusion leads to chaos, which is in direct violation of safety, and security, which is the very core of freedom. Through that leniency, we find ourselves disgusted with one another. That often leads to taking action so that person, or people group, can no longer act or do or say.
Taking prayer out of schools is an act of persecution; we know this because the goal was to exterminate, which is what persecution is all about. It is a person’s right to protect their home and property as they see fit. It is never okay to harm another human being unless in self-defense. [Claiming that it is a woman’s right to have an abortion automatically denies the unborn baby the right to its own life. And when rights regarding human life and death are pushed around, you can rest assured the rest of them are up for grabs…]
I mentioned a natural order. There is a natural order to things, and this is where civil rights make an appearance. Civil rights are born with the individual. It takes one look to determine with the naked and natural eye that someone is a woman, or that someone is Asian. These traits are a direct and inherent result of genes, they are a code of and from nature itself; they cannot be erased, or truly altered, hard as anyone may try. These civil rights are what keep us from owning other human beings based on their race or nationality, or from denying mutual respect based on gender.
I am not naïve. I realize that inequality in regards to matters of civil rights still exists. People have always abused their powers, and therefore other human beings suffered abuse. The problems of civil rights have existed since the beginning of time (well, not quite the very beginning, but definitely a generation later). It is inherent in human beings to dominate and practice selfishness. After all, ‘self’ is the root word of selfishness. All the same, I think the world is making enormous amounts of progress, and that progress will continue to be made, as it should. Will true equality ever take place? Honestly, I don’t think it will. Someone will always be abusing their power, their position, and humanity. Unless everyone surrenders to humility and compassion, which a lot of people really aren’t interested in because they see it as weakness, someone else will always be persecuted.
Contrary to popular belief, matters of self-identity are not matters of civil rights. A personal opinion, or lifestyle, or choice, is a matter of self-identity. It must be identified in order to be disclosed. This statement will be highly offensive to many people, and it is not meant to be destructive in the least. Recently, the claim is that homosexuals cannot change their sexual orientation any more than someone can change being born black. At risk of sounding prejudice, that simply isn’t true. A black person is black because they were born black. That isn’t to say a homosexual isn’t born feeling homosexual. I believe wholeheartedly that we are ALL born with an inclination that goes against our natural tendencies. These are matters of the soul, which is stronger than anything of this earth. A tug of war rages inside all of us for our entire lives: mental illness, addiction, sexuality.
Natural order has suffered ever since human beings relinquished the natural order of the soul. Design has been under attack since the first time it was attacked. We are now born that way: our souls at war with our bodies. We all have souls for a reason, and that reason is to be in communion with God. This might be too religious for most, and I can’t argue with that. I don’t have a non-spiritual approach to what I have just said. I think, though, that most people can agree that they have felt their own crux of the soul. We know how frightening, how isolating, how crazy-making it is. Let us, therefore, be compassionate on one another. My crux might be different from your crux, but I can still have compassion on you. I can still treat you with respect.
Respect is not a free pass. There still has to be boundaries. Natural order must still be submitted to. If we have been granted life, than grant us life. No human being should take the life of another, in part or in whole. Marriage must be defined as the union between a man and a woman, before things get out of control. If it is redefined, one day, everyone will be able to marry everyone. If that isn’t unsettling in its plainest of language there is no point in elaborating as to why it could be genuinely unwholesome.
I agree that this is hard. As necessary as they are, boundaries can be uncomfortable. Not everyone will always agree with where they are placed.
For a long time I have been of the opinion that you simply can’t tell people what to do. I could never quite wrap my mind around that. I could never quite understand why it didn’t fit right. Because if you can’t tell someone what to do, you can’t tell someone what to do. You then cannot expect people to be accountable for any of their actions, or be responsible for their choices.
You can’t insist that substances not be abused.
You can’t insist that people don’t drive under the influence.
You can’t protect children.
You can’t protect human life at all.
What I’ve said isn’t even extreme. I have started at a very simple point: it is a matter of choice as to whether or not someone wants to abuse a substance. But if you allow the abuse of a substance, you risk the harmful actions against others that could follow (i.e. drunk-driving). If you negate the seriousness of harming others, you can’t protect those who can’t protect themselves, and then the very component of life, life itself, comes under attack.
Think: post-apocalyptic. Think Water World, The Book of Eli. Everyone is pretty much just doing what they want, because they can.
I am sorry that restrictions might be applied to some people more than others, or so it would seem. I must stand by the need for boundaries. Boundaries are not synonymous with persecution, regardless of what it feels like.
Perhaps I am being scoffed at: after all, I am so privileged. I am married to a man, therefore I have never felt the sting of said boundaries. I am a white woman, therefore I have never felt the sting of persecution. Of course, I would disagree with that. I know where and when I have been persecuted. I know, as a practicing Christian, that my country has turned its back on my religion. Suddenly, the attitude is freedom FROM religion, not freedom OF religion. But getting into all of that is moot.
I felt a rising inside of me that needed to be released. I felt the need to identify with all of mankind. I felt a compulsion. These words were born of that.