Tuesday, March 04, 2014

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Not much time to talk today, but I thought I would toss this out there. It's about the lack of discussion over what, exactly, "rights" means, and where these "rights" come from and what they are for. I'm just doing a quick story on a talk by Cardinal Peter Turkson today on the subject, and I was very chuffed to see that he's been reading Orwell's Picnic regularly...

"...Perhaps proponents [of 'ideologies that attempt to rewrite human rights or create new ones'] are misled by the fact that fundamental rights can be expressed in different particular manners in different social and cultural contexts. A “healthy realism” will recognize that this variation is compatible with the universal character of the underlying rights, and it will block the misguided proliferation of pretended rights:

A healthy realism, therefore, is the foundation of human rights, that is, the acknowledgement of what is real and inscribed in the human person and in creation. When a breach is caused between what is claimed and what is real through the search of so-called 'new' human rights, a risk emerges to reinterpret the accepted human rights vocabulary to promote mere desires and measures that, in turn, become a source of discrimination and injustice and the fruit of self-serving ideologies"

Something that very few people ever talk about is just where "human rights" come from. Many secularists assume that "rights" are really privileges granted by governments, and as such are changeable by human decree. But Cardinal Turkson said today that they have a transcendent origin, and our understanding of them is dependent upon our observation of and adherence to The Real.

Something that STILL isn't being said, however, even at the highest levels of the Vatican, is that rights are inextricably connected with duties. In reality, we only have those "rights" which we require to do our duties.



Anonymous said...

"Human rights" do not exist. The very concept is man-centred.
But it is God who is at the centre, and our task is to obey Him. We must love Him first, ourselves next, and our neighbours as ourselves. Id est, we love and obey God to save both ourselves and our neighbours.
Everything flows from this: true law, good government, charity, moderation, respect, discrimination between good and bad, love of the one and hatred of the other, harmony, and therefore the arts. Civilisation, in a word.
"Rights"? As false and impious a concept as ever there was, matched only by that other Satanic mantra, equality.

Bernadette (Birmingham) said...

Dominion and stewardship go together, as God=given in the Genesis account of creation. Rights are meaningless without responsibilities. A classic misnomer in modern ethics is the so-called "right to die". As if some of us will somehow be denied this particular moment. And the right to life is happily ignored because some peoples' right to choice trumps the right of around 190,000 people in the UK to live.

Words. They don't mean what they used to.

I think they now mean whatever we want them to mean.