Thoughts while studying

Long forgotten temple of Lysistrata

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“Ideas should be worth spreading, there’s no delight in owning anything unshared” 

Seneca

One cannot begin to think about “rights” without first thinking about Hobbes.

If we had anyone to thank, it would be good ‘ol Thomas here for taking the first shifts from the tradition of laws and duty (to the king and monarchy) to a tradition of rights. Hobbes left a legacy in the way we thought about ‘rights’. One of the fundamental themes in the Leviathan was that the “right of nature” is the right to self-preservation.

Hobbes work would later come to greatly influence the works of Locke, Rousseau, and numerous other noted thinkers, figures and documents after that; one of the more important documents of our modern times being, in the drafting of the Declaration of Human Rights.

Its hard to imagine, human rights, something that we would have never thought about otherwise or questioned a life without, was a major paradigm shifter just two centuries ago. The revolutionary thought not only stirred the hearts of individuals but catapulted to International Politics and largely to civil governments.These days we are angry that our “rights” have been forgotten, violated, trampled on, tampered with. We’re on a mission towards educating our kids, youths and citizens about their inalienable ‘rights’. We’re joining activists and lobbyists, and the numerous civil society groups and defenses advocating for these rights.

However a closer look into the same train of thought of Hobbes or Grotius, we would believe that rights were alienable, because they are granted (either by God or by nature, whichever your beliefs) and that because they are granted they can be taken away. Therefore, rights are a possession that is agreed upon, and capable of being built upon. So guard your possessions.

To have a ‘right’, is to have a responsibility to keep it, not only to experience the fullness of its freedoms- life, speech, protection, health, liberty and so on, but it is to do something with those rights. A right is a privilege, and privileged people do something with what they’re given.

I forget how good my life is, then I look at my desk littered with Marx an Engels, Hobbes, and Rousseau and a burst of blue from Catch-22, and I think about the wealth of knowledge within my reach, and ask myself, Just what, are you doing with it?

There are the millions without this privilege, trapped in the prison of not just poverty and violence, but also ignorance. Education frees us. Books and theories can only serve me so much, but others have the wealth of experience within their faculties. Time to experience some.

 

Just thoughts after reading.

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