Rights must come with Responsibilities

When we talk about our rights, we must also talk about our responsibilities. Demanding rights without shouldering responsibilities is sheer carelessness and a dangerous recipe for strife. In a targeted world order of stability and peace, and coherence, bilateralism must prevail and be promoted over unilateralism. Giving must take precedence over taking — giving respect, giving assistance, giving care and comfort. Listening must take precedence over talking. Tolerance and acceptance must prevail over intolerance and rejection.

Equal human rights must be interwoven with equal human responsibilities and must carry a prime responsibility to exercise one’s rights responsibly, without infringing on the rights of other people. We must learn to keep the matters of our faith and our beliefs to ourselves and not impose, socially or politically, on other people who don’t share them with us or agree with us. If each one of us understands and follows this simple and basic principle, the world order would be in a much better and peaceful state.

If only we don’t judge others based on their faiths or beliefs! If only we could learn to respect others, not because of their status or wealth or authority or faith or belief or colour or gender, but just because they are humans like us! If only we could learn to be prepared to sacrifice our rights to uphold the rights of other people! If only we could learn to respect and uphold the human dignity at all costs and in any situation! If only we could learn to serve others rather than exploit them for our material benefits or lord over them! If only we could learn to cohere with all humans of diverse backgrounds!

If only we could learn to make ourselves responsible for protecting the rights of other people, our life would be worthwhile.

We can, if we don’t remain buried in the past that does not exist anymore. We can, if we don’t tread a regressive path that leads us to a much smaller and ignorant  world.  We can, if we open the doors and windows of our hearts and minds to the realism of human progress in science and discoveries, to facts and not fiction. We can, if we accept that all humans share 99.9 percent of their DNA.

Let us be humans first before wearing any other secondary or tertiary identities. Let our lives be dedicated to serving humans. Humanism must always come first. Upholding the human dignity and respect must always come first. Unless and until that does not happen, there will be no peace or happiness in the human world.

If only we could learn to be prepared to sacrifice our rights to respect and uphold the rights of other people!

Note: This article must be read within the framework of humanistic, social and cultural domains. It has not been written from a legal perspective and does not talk about legal rights whatsoever.

… Bill Koul (Perth, Western Australia, 09 February 2021)

2 thoughts on “Rights must come with Responsibilities

  1. It is a lovely read, as usual. Empathetic. The blog is about the rights and responsibilities we must share with our fellow humans for furthering progress and development of humanity in general. I write below some of the responsibilities you have said in the blog
    1. Keep the faith as a personal matter
    2. Fight for rights of others.
    3. Don’t discriminate based on faith, colour or race.
    4. Exercise religious and ideological tolerance.
    5. Humanism, not identity should be prime motive for actions of directing duties and rights
    I agree with each word of the blog. You are talking of rights and responsibilities of a person towards fellow human beings for general upliftment of the humanity. Usually , we connect rights and responsibilities with the legal and constitutional terms. The rights and the duties are defined by the constitutions in democratic countries and enforced through independent courts. Some rights are declared as inalienable rights of human being by the United Nations. And the individual rights have preponderance over the duties. Duties are not necessary part of constitution in many countries. In India the duties were introduced through 42nd amendment during emergency and are put under the chapter of directive principles, which are guiding principles and not legally enforceable as the fundamental rights are. The world of today is more divided than it ever was in the recent past. The divisions among the people within the countries have become sharp and highly cacophonous and their reconciliation seem difficult to happen. We saw Britishers split through the middle on Brexit. The USA’s recent election gives an idea of the division between democrats and republicans at the people’s level has become toxic and sharp. In India, we have people divided on all issues and not prepared to listen to each other and find the common ground for cooperation and resolution for its many pressing problems. To add to it governments in some countries are curbing the liberties and rights of their people making the argument that their responsibility towards the country has preponderance over their rights as given by the respective constitutions, if they are given. The duty, which is not defined as clearly and explicitly becomes the catch phrase to stifle the rights of people. If we see the rights and duties from legal point of view, which we generally do, that will run counter to what you plead in the blog. Therefore, there is strong possibility of people quoting you to derive wrongly the point that a person’s right to dissent comes only after he fulfils his duty. Therefore, I think somewhere in the blog it should be made clear in which context the rights and responsibility are used, not to confuse it with legal meaning of rights and responsibilities.

    1. Dear Mr Peer,
      I thank you for your detailed response. You words complement the article. I sincerely appreciate your thoughts and acknowledge your efforts in expressing them in support of the article. Thank you.

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