John Steward of Jesus
  The "Good News" (Gospel) > Sporadic Log > "Rights"


(posted at theekklesiachurch)
February 28, 2009

My comments focus on the concept of a "right".

"Right" as a noun is an abstract concept related to "right" as an adjective.  It is easier to consider whether an action is "right" than to consider whether someone has a specified "right".

It has always been helpful to me to remember that "right" is the polar opposite of "wrong".  It seems to me that we have a "right" to something only when it would be "wrong"  for someone to take it from us or deny it to us.  Giving someone the loaf of bread which I have might be the "right" thing to do.  But that does not give him the "right" to claim possession of that loaf.  Because it would be "wrong" for me to take from him a loaf which he has, he has a "right" to continue possession of that loaf.

Because "right" and "wrong" are moral concepts, only our Creator and Lawgiver can determine whether we do or do not have a specified "right".  We mortals are limited to revealed standards in judging whether "rights" have been violated.  Someone has a right to life because it would be wrong for another to kill him.  Someone has a right to a wife, a house, or a horse in his possession because it would be wrong for another to take them from him.  It is not for me to judge whether anyone has a "right" to a defined standard of living or a level of education not yet reached.

Someone has a right to travel on a way only when there is evidence that it would be wrong for another to prevent such travel.

There are also "rights" between parties which arise from contracts between them .  But that is a secondary matter.