Saturday, May 12, 2007

Rights and Responsibilities

"What is the point of standing up for your rights in a world where few stand up for their responsibilities? Your rights will do you little good unless others are responsible." (Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy, p10)

How very true. Put it another way, if more people were to take responsibilities of their own lives, will we have a constant rush of people crying out in defence of their personal rights? Rights can be championed so much that responsibilities become pushed to the background. Isn't it true that when fewer people live responsible lives, more people felt compelled to form picket lines to stand for their rights. "Stand up!" they say, "and fight for your rights." More often then not, such attempts are met with a helpless shrug and at best a sympathetic clap or a honk. Such actions are like trying to fill an empty swimming pool with a toy water-pistol. Whatever liquid squirted on the dry floor gets evaporated quickly by the rays of nonchalence, that says: "That's not my problem." Apathy some may say. Agony, others may feel. Apostasy! That is the main problem. When one loses their spiritual compass, everything goes, including their faith in basic life and lifestyle. When one forsakes their spiritual goal of their lives, everything else goes into a spin without a moral direction.

Another problem is that the current religious teachings are not rubbing the right spot of discontent. People still get fears of having to sell their brains to a religious enterprise. I have heard lots of people say to me: "I'm not a religious man, I am a spiritual man." This is like telling me, I am still searching for spiritual truth, but definitely not choosing the religious route.

PROBLEM: An individualistic Cocoon
The current push for rights rather than call for responsibilities stem also from the individualistic mindset. People simply fear stepping into another person's private space, (even to get them to do the responsible thing.) Probably, they are not comfortable in others imposing values on them, that is why they do not want to impose values of others.

In order to start addressing this problem of rights over responsibilities, there is no easy solution. Perhaps there is no human solution as it is an embedded problem all along: Sin. What has sin got to do with rights and responsibilities? In the infamous seven deadly sins, seven sins were listed. Traits of all of them are present in this rights-responsibilities imbalance. For now, I can think of at least one of them: Sloth.


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