We have our rights
Sun City, Calif.
We have our rights! This has been a constant rally cry for the past fifty years, so we have women’s rights, student rights, civil rights, and everyone has their rights, but not much has been said about their responsibilities. I believe every right has a responsibility.
For example, freedom of speech is one of our rights as citizens, but it carries with it the responsibility to speak respectfully of others, to speak the truth as we know it, and not be down on what we are not up on. It carries the responsibility to know the facts, to have a clear picture before we begin to speak and not cry “fire” in a crowded theatre.
Freedom of religion is another of our rights, but it carries the responsibility to be respectful of other people’s religion and beliefs even when we disagree and find their ideas to be “out of this world.”
Freedom of the press is another right, but this carries the responsibility to be as accurate as possible, to know the facts, and not to spread rumors or exaggerate in order to gain readership.
Freedom of movement is a right that most of us take for granted, until we visit a country where we have to get permission from the government to move from one location to another.
We have the right of assembly, but that carries with it the responsibility to obey the law and not violate the rights of others.
So who has the greater right? A husband or a wife? A parent or a child? We all have rights, but they must be seen in relationship to the rights of others.
So enjoy your rights, but always be aware of the rights of others. I agree with Evelyn Beatrice Hall, who wrote in her biography of Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That is what America is about.
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 27, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.