Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Finish Line Seems So Far Away

BIA was created to explore the intersection of the many issues facing all of society in the one and only home we have - Earth. All of these issues, at some level, require people of different cultures, sex, religion, race, and orientation to come together and find a consensus of how to move forward.

How can we expect, then, to become a sustainable society, end poverty, create an economy that aims to raise the standard of living, and establish a peace-filled Earth on all continents if we cannot come together as a people and provide equal freedoms and rights to all.

While this blog is not necessarily focused on discussing social issues, I believe it clear that the only way true and comprehensive solutions to the big issues facing us will occur is when we stand up and say ENOUGH to hatred and discrimination of our neighbors, countryman and women, and fellow members of Earth.

15 comments:

twster55 said...

I feel as if he summed up everything I feel on any social issue. Abortion and gay marriage are not the issues that this country needs to be focusing on. My brother and sister (14 and 9) both were upset about the result of proposition 8 for the simple fact that as children they feel everyone should love one another. What a concept! While I doubt I will see a day with world peace and no discrimination - my hope is that there will be a time where everyone puts aside issues that will NEVER have a consensus and moves onto the real problems that face this world. No one can take away my hope anymore than I can take away someone's love.

Sue said...

A lot depends upon perspective. Where we are as a country on issues of equality and equal treatment under the law is so far ahead of where we were in 1968 when M.L.King was assassinated. This progress has not just been for African Americans.

Gays, lesbians and transgendered Americans have come a long way out of a very dark closet in those 40 years as well. November 4th's election with all of it's historical triumphs does make the votes in several states to deny marriage to a significant swath of American's even harder to bear. It shows that there is much more that can be done to expand equal rights and respect to everyone. But it is not a wise idea to think in terms of "finish lines" -- because there is no such thing.

As my all time favorite poem (and poet) put it so succinctly:

“The sea moves always, the wind moves always,
They want and want and there is no end to their wanting.
What they sing is the song of the people.
Man will never arrive, man will always be on the way.
It is written he shall rest but not for long.
The sea and the wind tell him he shall be lonely, meet love, be shaken
with struggle and go on wanting.”

-- Carl Sandburg “The People, Yes.”

There are no finish lines in human lives or human societies (except death, and many people the world over in many cultures and many religions see that not as a finish line but as a new starting line). Everytime we reach one goal, we discover new goals for which we must struggle. There was a time when no one even knew or thought that equality under the law was even a goal worth struggling for, people believed in divine hierarchical order. We are constantly evolving culturally to recognize new challenges and new obstacles to overcome.

Pat Jenkins said...

prog no "rights" of individuals have been silenced! let us not overstate things.

E. R. Dunhill said...

Prog,
There is no finish line. The race is the prize.

E. R. Dunhill said...

PJ,
I disagree. The day before the election, California law accorded gay couples the right to marry. The passage of Proposition 8 revoked that right. Regardless of whether or not you think the people in question should have this right, they did have it and now they don't.
I'm curious: In the past, you've defined both democracy and capitalism in terms of individual freedoms. What do you think about California's recent gay marriage ban and Connecticut's recent decision to allow it?

Pat Jenkins said...

i apologize for my absence erd... to your question. we have created rights as individuals, and of course pursuit of happiness is a part of those defined rights. but the word pursuit means that one is affordded the opportunity or freedom to find happiness. not the idea that one is to gain happiness. gay marriage though it does give happiness to partners, it can not fall under the definition of a right. so agian i say no rights have been violated without it instatement...

E. R. Dunhill said...

PJ,
Clearly you and I are defining "rights" differently. I'm writing about legal rights. Legal rights are by definition those rights granted, recognized, or affirmed by law. California law previously granted the legal right to marry to persons of the same sex. A new law revoked that right. Californians lost a legal right.
If not the law, what do you feel is the basis for a government granting rights?

Pat Jenkins said...

erd where else can we get "lawful" rights but from the "rights" granted by a creator. the court in making these decisions has abused the definiton of a right. i am all for the prosperity of homosexuals with their partners, but i am not for the exageration of said rights....

E. R. Dunhill said...

PJ,
Do you consider limited taxation (or freedom from taxation) a right? Is the absence of regulations on businesses a right? Is the freedom to trade debt between institutions that lack the means to settle the notes a right? Is the freedom to carry a concealed handgun a right? Is the freedom release thorium or sulfur dioxide or NOx into the air and water a right?
Do these have a divine source?

Pat Jenkins said...

erd i sense a tone of irratation in your "voice" my friend. we have a definition for rights. peace, prosperity, and the pursuit of happiness. and again we have defined what those mean in our many conversations. if something or someone is in violation of these things then we make a law to protect our "rights". a right does not mean i am granted th ability to do whatever i please (with my body abortion), or that i "get" what some one else may have. if we start granting rights based upon the latter definition we have crossed a non returnable line...

E. R. Dunhill said...

PJ,
I don't find myself irritated about this. I'm curious about what rights you believe have a divine origin, and what is the weight (if any) of the laws we use to govern ourselves.
I'm very curious as to the right you describe as prosperity. How do you define this right, and what is its source?
In the legal sense, I don't see it in the Constitution, though I'm certainly neither a lawyer nor a Constitutional scholar. Given the way you've described your religious affiliation in the past, I'm curious where a divine right to prosperity may come from. On taxes, Christ said, "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar." Many of the practices of the early Church (enumerated in the writings of Paul) could be described as communism.
I think prosperity may simply be a potential outcome of rights like property ownership, the right to trade, and the right to security in one's person and possessions.

Sue said...

PJ
The language of "rights" does not exist in the Hebrew Scriptures, instead the Hebrew Scriptures use a language of responsibility and obligations or Mitzvot. There are 613 mitzvot covering man's relationship to G-d, prayer and blessings, brotherhood, reponsibility to the poor, servants, slaves, and the gentile, family obligations, responsibilities for the land and for business, and so forth. The Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy)specify what one is obligated to do, not what rights one has. Modern people might infer rights from these Mitzvot, but the concept of rights is not a concept found in the Torah. For example, Deut. 24:15 the Jew is obligated "To pay wages to the hired man at the due time." It does not say that the hired man has a right to payment in due time, although we in modern society might infer that. Another example, from Lev. 22:24 assigns the obligation "not to castrate the male of any species; neither a man, nor a domestic or wild beast, nor a fowl;" again, while we in modern society might infer from that that all males (human and animal) have a right not to be castrated, this is modern interpretation using the language of rights, and not there in the scriptures. It is hard to argue that anything that we presently think of as "rights" are based squarely on Torah.

The concept and language of rights as opposed to obligations and responsibilities is a much more recent concept. The concept of "rights" as we think of them today, had clearly evolved prior to King John's acknowledgement of rights and liberties in the Magna Carta (1215) -- one of the earliest documents to talk about the rights of ordinary citizens. The Magna Carta did not create new rights, but rather recognized existing custom in England and bound the King (and all his heirs in perpetuity) to up hold those rights. The focus of the Magna Carta was primarily on property rights, and legal rights (e.g., "No freeman is to be taken or imprisoned or disseised of his free tenement or of his liberties or free customs, or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will we go against such a man or send against him save by lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land. To no-one will we sell or deny of delay right or justice.")

I am unaware of any source ancient or modern that suggests that either peace or prosperity are rights of anyone, although some sources may suggest that people should have the right to WORK towards the goals of peace or prosperity, these ends are not guaranteed rights. With regard to prosperity, Torah describes the responsibilities of wealth (how one should utilize and spend one's resources) but no responsilibity or right to create prosperity or wealth. The Magna Carta guarantees rights to hold onto and inherit existing wealth, but guarantees no rights with regard to the creation of wealth.

The language of rights in the Declaration and the Constitution owe their origins to a tradition of European philosophy most evident in the period of Enlightenment where rights were viewed as deriving from "natural law" and not necessarily a creator. Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence (a piece of political propoganda to rally citizens to fight against an oppressor -- much like a petition today -- and not a binding legal document) assigns the right for the "pursuit of happiness" not the right to happiness.

Pat Jenkins said...

now erd i am not trying to make this into a religous discussion. but if we have been bewtowed with the creative endowment, which i believe we have been, then we as human beings are empowered. that empowerment means we are free. or if we want to get spiritual, a free spirit. free to prosper as each individual may chose. free to defend ourselves. free to pursue unabated in our pursuit of happiness. this is how we have defined rights in this nation. gay marriage does not fall under this definiton....


well said sue but i hope you are not in favor of gay marriage. because your argument has argued against it....

E. R. Dunhill said...

PJ,
On the subject of religion, I've responded with religious thinking on rights, because you introduced the idea that rights come from "a creator". I agree with you that certain rights transcend laws, and for my own part, I believe these rights have a divine source.
While I appreciate your personal feelings on what peoples' rights should be, one person's thoughts don't constitute rights in any meaningful or enforcable way. Someone else may have a different idea, but we all share one government. (And, generalities cannot be enforced.) That's why we codify rights and responsibilities into law. Contrary to what you've written, this collection of laws is how we define rights in this country.
As it happens, federal law does not explicitly guarantee the right to pursue happiness. This text appears in the Declaration of Independence (a document that predates the United States); the text about life, liberty, &c was not repeated in the Constitution. Moreover, many in Congress felt that the Constitution did not enumerate rights sufficiently, so they began amending it with a Bill of Rights. The Bill begins defining rights in a manner that is objective and enforceable. Throw-in executive powers, public laws, the CFR, Bob's-your-uncle, we have a spate of rights.
Federal law says little about marriage, gay or otherwise. The legal authority to marry people is delegated to the several states, which in turn delegate large protions of this power to lower levels of government. States enjoy the legal freedom to define marriage.
Getting back to my original point, California law previously granted the right for two people of the same sex to marry. That law defined a right. (Again, that's where legal rights come from.) A new law has taken away that right. (New laws and court-decisions are how legal rights cease to be.)
If someone passed a law that barred you from renewing your driver's license, wouldn't you have lost a right? Previously, you had the right to drive; now you don't. The only change is in what the law allows, and how that law is enforced.

Pat Jenkins said...

yes erd i know state's have made laws allowing gay marriage. but again i say those laws were defended with a new view of a defined right!!!! that is were my arguement to these "proclamations" is aimed!!