Which do we hear more about: rights or responsibilities? Which do we talk and think more about: our rights or our responsibilities? The answer varies depending on who I am associating with and by associating I mean listening to, live or recorded, reading from or interacting with. Like-minded people tend to hangout together and think very similar choosing to focus on either their rights or their responsibilities. A right is something people feel they are entitled to or can demand, something that is owed them passively without any required action on their part. We may think of the Declaration of Independence where it is stated “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 them are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” when talking of rights. Liberty is a right. In reading about our fore fathers and the framers of the constitution, it is evident they were very concerned about the individuals rights. They put checks and balances in place to protect the common man so their rights would not be oppressed by a governing or an outside force. They deliberated carefully how to perserve the peoples rights, their freedoms, afraid they could be lost if the reasons as to why they were declared were ever forgotten. So who is responsible for making sure they are not forgotten?
If we are to ask who is responsible for the rights of the people it might be well to compare rights and responsibilities. Does one come before the other? A right may give me an equal chance for success with the next guy or gal, however success will come only from my accepting responsibility for making something happen. For example, I have the right to start a business but for it to be profitable and provide for my family I have the responsibility of planning, doing, checking and adjusting based on the results. I cannot expect someone else to do the work for me or prop up my profits. As a parent, I have the right to name my child however I have the responsibility to feed, clothe, love, encourage and provide safety for him. When I act on my right to become a mother, my responsibilities increase and are more important than my personal pleasures. If I have a driver license, I have the right to drive a car but only if I drive responsibly otherwise my driving privilege will be revoked. Is it fair that my right to drive can be taken away? This is where our responsibility trumps our rights.
It is said that we should have a Statue of Responsibility on our west coast to balance the Statue of Liberty on our east coast. Responsibility usually includes being an active participant, not necessarily by a lot of physical work but being involved to make sure things get done. Would you agree that if we work hard or put in much effort for our money that we tend to value it more and spend it more wisely than if it is given to us? I heard someone say that the value of our currency does not come from the number they put on it but instead from the time we put into earning it. There is a book in our LIFE business “The Ultimate Gift” by James Stovall in which he tells the story of learning the value of responsibility for ourselves and caring for others. Responsibility brings so many more benefits to us than our rights or entitlements ever can. When we take ownership or responsibility for our actions and results there is a sense of accomplishment, value, and the belief that we can improve our future. When I look at those I know who have accepted more responsiblity for their lives they are much happier than those who voluntarily give up their responsibility to have a certain level of handouts given to them. Those who take responsibility have more choices in life and a more positive impact on others. George Guzzardo relates the leadership quality of responsibility to the health our communities in a recent article by writing ‘Leadership qualities are necessary to restore communication in our community today. Qualities like trust, responsibility and accountability will help restore the social bonds that bring the community together’. He continues ‘The responsibility of restoring community begins with ourselves. We can learn to stop being checked by central government power and take responsibility. We are finding that well funded government efforts DO NOT WORK! We can choose to come together and create a sense of aliveness and wholeness instead of alienation. The title of Orrin Woodward’s new book ‘Leadershift’ says, “It’s a call for men and women to stand up and lead.”. When we give up our responsibility and allow others to make decisions for us, they cannot do as good a job as we can. They do not have the vested interest in our lives, for our children and our homes that we have.
Rights and responsibilities will impact our lives in a more positive way when we are aware of who is attempting to control them. Are they people with the same values as I? I encourage you to be more aware who is making decisions for you and whose best interest do they have in mind. We as individuals know our situations and needs better than an outside party. Accept responsiblity and improve your future. God Bless