With all the societal unrest of late, there’s been a lot of talk about ‘rights’. And I don’t mean ‘of late’, as in the last week. I mean…well, hell, my whole life. A child of the 1980s, I was born into a society that was struggling with the social contract for as long as I can remember. Maybe that struggle began before the ink was even dried on said contract.
In the United States, are concept of rights is defined by our legal system, specifically the Constitution (the Bill of Rights is actually just the first ten amendments in the Constitution). 27 Amendments currently sit on the books, with a good hundred or so proposed every year congress is in session. Earlier rights deal with individuals, whereas later rights are generally a bit more institutional.
The question becomes, though, does the presence of a right suggest a corresponding responsibility? If you have the right to bear arms, do you have the corresponding responsibility to carry and use that firearm in a particular manner (IE responsibly)? With the right to free speech, do you have a responsibility to speak the truth or speak accurately in some fashion?
Or are responsibilities wholly independent?
We codify rights, but not responsibilities. I think that may say quite a bit right there.
And maybe solving some of our problems might come from doing just that: defining our societal responsibilities.