In Short – A Primer on the Basic Rights of Man
Within the Declaration of Independence, one of our most hallowed and sacred of documents covering the governance of our land, there are three inalienable rights of man, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that every American and every human has these three basic rights. However, as we learned, these rights can override one another, as we learned from Oliver Wendell Holmes. So, as I think over this list, I see that it is an ordered list, and correctly prioritized.
In other words, the right to life reigns over the right to liberty; the right to liberty trumps the right to the pursuit of happiness. So, it is improper, then, for one’s pursuit of happiness to infringe on another man’s liberty, and a man’s liberty should never override another person’s right to life.
I think about the abortion issue and the fact that I believe the unborn child, from conception to birth, is a human life and is deserving of equal protection. I do not believe that a woman’s pursuit of happiness should ever override that baby’s right to life.
Now, if one chooses to give up their right to life so that another might have the right to life, or even more, the right to liberty, this is an act of bravery and courage. The Bible even says, “scarcely for a good man would one dare to die”. My brethren and sisters-in-arms offer up their lives so that I may have the right to liberty – and for that, I offer my humblest gratitude, as we all should, for they are the true heroes of our country, not Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid.
Giving up one’s liberty for someone else’s happiness, however, is an act of stupidity, and giving up one’s right to life for another’s happiness is an atrocity.
So we see there is a priority to these rights and I believe George Mason, who penned these words into the Virgina Declaration of Rights might agree with my premise*. But even if he would not, I do believe that there are priorites to rights, based on the precedents set in the Scriptures.
Lastly, these truths are self-evident, that is, they need no explanation. And just like the charges listed in the Declaration, one has to suspend rational and logical thought to not see it this way.
*An interesting sidenote is that Mason was in-fact a slave-owner. Even more interestingly, he was, at heart, an anti-slavery advovate. He said, “It is far from being a desirable property. But it will involve us in great difficulties and infelicity to be now deprived of them.” So he might not have truly agreed with my premise, given his right to property and pursuit of happiness would not be overridden by their right to liberty, but I digress.