What do you think about when someone mentions “rights”? Is the first thing that crosses your mind something like “abortion rights”, or “voting rights”? Or is it something like “unalienable rights”, which is a phrase from the Declaration of Independence? What does “unalienable” even mean? First of all, here are some definitions of “rights” from various sources. They are similar, but not all alike. And there are two kinds of rights, Natural Rights and Legal Rights. First, here are the definitions of Natural Rights (which, by the way, are not universally recognized).
Natural Rights are rights that you have when you are born. The idea first came up in ancient times but was discussed most famously by English philosopher John Locke in the sixteen hundreds. Locke said that the most important natural rights are “Life, Liberty, and Property”. There are two types of rights. Natural rights are those that are not defined or dependent on the laws or customs of any particular culture, tradition, rules, or government, and so are universal and inalienable (they cannot be repealed by human laws, though one can forfeit their enforcement through one’s actions, such as by violating someone else’s rights).
The above definition is from a Web site called “Diversity and Social Impact Resources”.
Natural rights are rights given to every single person in the world. These rights cannot be changed through legislation or due to cultural differences.
The above definition is from a Web site called constitutionus.com.
- Natural rights are rights granted to all people by nature or God that cannot be denied or restricted by any government or individual. Natural rights are often said to be granted to people by “natural law.”
This definition comes from a Web site called Thoughtco.com.
These definitions have some commonality, like their references to the fact that Natural rights cannot be altered by governments or customs, that they are inherent in human beings. Only the third definition, however, mentions the source of Natural rights, in Nature or God.
In relation to Natural Rights, the descriptor “unalienable” is found in the Declaration of Independence, and it means that they cannot be removed by anyone, since they are inherent in every person’s humanity. It also, to me, means that your Natural rights do not involve the efforts of any other entity, either people or government. You have Natural Rights at birth, and no one else needs to do anything to or for you in order for you to have those rights. The main Natural Rights referred to in our Declaration of Independence are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. The first Ten Amendments to the Constitution were also considered close to Natural Rights, as they do not require the efforts of other humans to be granted.
Legal “rights”, on the other hand, are granted to certain citizens by governments; that’s where abortion rights and voting rights come in. Since legal rights are bestowed by government, they can also be withdrawn or altered by government. People who live in socialist or communist countries have fewer legal rights than those who are fortunate enough to live in America or Europe which are democracies or republics where the people elect their representatives.
Those who say that things like Health Care and Decent Housing are “Human Rights” are wrong. Both health care and housing require extensive, expensive effort by others to come into being. If you think that the world, or your country, owes you health care, then what follows is that those who provide health care are your slaves, and are mandated to give you something that you have not earned. In our country, things like medical care and housing must be paid for by someone, either private or public (government), and many people come to think that medical care is “free”.
These days, the national government has lost sight of Natural Rights, and continues to curtail those rights. And Big Tech companies, actually doing the government’s job, has been egregious in denying Freedom of Speech, one of the most important natural rights. It is up to us, the People, to fight for our Natural Rights. It is incumbent upon every American to read the nation’s founding documents, and take to heart all that the Founders did for us, and the legacy they left us. In order to remain the Land of the Free, we must learn about Liberty, and fight to maintain it. This is especially important today, when the Administrative State, which is not elected, is on track to remove much of our Liberty, aided and abetted by the elected DemocRat party.
A very good, absolutely free, way for every American to learn about our founding documents, is to go on over to the Hillsdale College Web site, and sign up for FREE Online Courses. Hillsdale’s wonderful faculty will teach you all you need to know about our Constitution and our history. We should all be proud of being born in the United States, the Greatest Country on God’s Green Earth.