Ever since I was a little kid, the concept of “unfair” has always angered me, especially when the unfairness is the direct result of other human beings. Life is unfair enough to everybody in one way or another – why be adding to the burden?
The same goes for the rights of others. And what I’m talking about goes far beyond that of civil law, the courts, and Constitution of America. What I’m talking about are those far simpler rights; those basic rights, that one has towards the rest of mankind.
Those rights have in their inclusion the right to happiness – but not at the expense of someone else’s survival, or their happiness. The right to survive – that’s a basic one, but there’s more. For while it’s true human happiness has to come from one’s self – it’s also true that one’s happiness depends in part on the world around you. You depend on the goodness of others – whether for a profit or from their own heart – and so you should include a responsibility to behave so – not just blindly expect respect when you may not have earned the right to get it, if you weren’t giving it in kind.
In our search for survival and our own happiness, we should not ignore the needs of others. Doing a good turn doesn’t always yield a good turn, but it certainly helps one’s perceptions of the human condition. Inversely, treating someone bad – treading upon their rights – with no right or with impunity – depraves the human condition, making someone else turn bad.
People also have the right to be treated as a human being – acknowledging that they may not be perfect – and neither are we. So many folks I see try to pawn off their troubles on something or someone – when in fact, the trouble has been themselves. Either unable to control ‘someone’, some urge within themselves – or just simply lacking the self-discipline to do so. Always counting on someone else to pull their own head out of the noose. “There should be a fine for stupidity, you know,” I recall someone once saying, “and it should be double the fine they get someone to pay if they ever win something in court.” Sometimes I agree – but I’ve come to feel more sorry for the ‘stupid’ people: too ignorant to see their own behinds, which are often hanging out…
But the rights of others: I will defend those rights – and so should you. I was brought up to defend the rights of others – Army bred and Army born – and spent the younger years of my life being a Marine. I have defended worker’s rights in companies, and looked out for the common man – sometimes at expense to my own self. Bosses don’t like it when you tell them what to do – and especially what they can’t. I know. I’ve done it. Told the boss; told a corporation: you can’t do that. And I worked there. They didn’t like it – but they obeyed the law. It was the right thing to do – even if it did hurt my chances for promotion later on.
More people need to step up sometimes – pointing out and correcting wrongs. And I mean true wrongs, real wrongs – not those wrongs we hear so widely publicized. The little ones; the kinds of wrongs we see in everyday life to someone. It’s all fine and great to belong to some kind of cause – “Save the Trees”, “Save the Whales”, “Save the Corporate Raiders” – but its in the little things you do that your behavior really matters.
I will defend the right for someone to believe what they want to believe, as long as they treat everyone with the same tolerance that I grant them, including me. If you want to worship God – great. If you want to worship goats or something – fine. Makes no difference to me. But don’t impinge on my own happiness – or someone elses – by either torturing or persecuting them for what they believe. I’m not going to be a very happy man – nor Marine – if I catch you doing that.
By that same token: support others in their own beliefs. If they’ve got a belief that works for them – if they seem to be and are saying they’re happy with it – then why “fix” it by trying to convince them of something else to believe? Let them go with it. You’ve got yours, they’ve got theirs, and that’s the end of it. Let the gods come fight it out if they’ve got a problem with it. After all: we’re just “men”. We’ve got problems enough of our own.
Be polite at all counts, but don’t be a snob, and don’t let them run you over. “Take no crap, give no crap” – that’s what we used to believe – and we still do so. I’ll be fair to my fellow man – as long as he’s fair to me. Mistreat me – and I’ll forgive you, but we won’t be doing business again. And if you threaten me or another’s life – expect me to defend. That’s what I do. That’s what I’ve always done. Stepping in for the defenseless . . . helping when I can. And realizing that people have the right to screw up, too. You can only help someone so far – then they must help themselves, lift themselves up by their own bootstraps like we did – out of the gutter (or in our case, poverty, drugs, and a childhood that one psychiatrist said was “sick”). You can lead a horse to water . . . you can point the way . . .
but that doesn’t mean you should expect anyone to take it . . .
For freedom – and the learning that goes with it – while doing “no harm” – is a heavy chore. Don’t take the responsibility lightly – and remember:
When you are protecting someone else’s freedoms – you are often protecting your own.
Just a thought there.