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Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Right to Not Take Shit From Anyone:

The Declaration of Independence asserts that human beings are given indelible rights, given to us by God, and therefore beyond the moral reach of any human institution to restrain, and that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  This doesn't mean there aren't any additional rights that they failed to mention.  In fact, it implies there are several more rights in addition to those three, all just as God given and indelible as the first three.

FDR proposed some more rights that Americans really had but the declaration had failed to list -- freedom from want and freedom from fear.

Freedom from want is recognized all across the world and by the UN as a human right, with various programs meant to secure an 'adequate standard of living for all.'  If other programs, like the free market or education, fail to deliver this human right, then the government is morally obligated (as a signatory to this human right in the UN charter) to make up the difference with a basic income that has no strings attached or hoops to jump through but simply works.  Indeed, within the second paragraph of Wikipedia's entry on 'freedom from want' comes the positive suggestion of utilizing the basic income as the ultimate and final solution to poverty:

"There have been a number of proposed policies to guarantee people a basic standard of living through the concept of offering a Basic income guarantee essentially gifting all citizens a basic level of "free money" in order to meet basic needs such as food and shelter."

In other words, as early as  the 1940's we realized God required we pass the basic income, but somehow, even though we were already signatories to a charter recognizing everyone's right to a basic income, we have never actually given it to anyone for the last seventy years.  This is about as absurd as recognizing everyone's God-given right to liberty while still holding slaves for seventy years afterwards.  How do people even wrap their heads around such hypocrisy?  It's unbelievable.

The fourth freedom, freedom from fear, basically means the right to not be conquered by warlike neighbors, which in addition means the right to not require a massive standing army at all times in order to repel invasion.  This freedom has two steps -- not only is world peace required, but in addition even arming for war is morally impermissible, because it creates fear that you'll soon be conquering your neighbors with said army and requires they spend an equally wasteful amount on their own armaments to keep up with yours.  Again, for a freedom spelled out by our own president, it's remarkable how in the last seventy years we have completely ignored it by fielding an army as large as the rest of the world's combined.

Again, freedom from fear is enshrined in the UN human rights charter, to which we are signatories.  Therefore we are morally obligated to disarm our ridiculously massive military industrial complex and abolish the standing army once and for all.  The original intent of the constitution was to rely solely on militia for self defense, and given how many armed Americans we have, and how many millions of police men we employ, it's really absurd to think we need anything else to protect ourselves.  Ideally, our disarmament would be in concert with the rest of the world's, including nuclear disarmament, such that no one is left capable of invading anyone anymore, which was Roosevelt's dream.  But even if it is unilateral, it would still be a good thing.  For one thing, it would save us the money necessary to fund our other basic human right, freedom from want.  For another, we are currently the worst violators of the freedom from fear clause by fielding such a ridiculously massive army.  For a third, our own disarmament would have a morally persuasive effect on other nations that world peace and total demobilization is not only possible but necessary for the future of mankind.  We would be the start of a domino effect where nukes are banned forever as a weapon contrary to humanity, and all other WMD's like nukes could go with them.

But even Roosevelt, visionary as he was, didn't realize that God had given us at least one more right in the Declaration of Independence -- the right to not take shit from anyone.

This is partially freedom from want, but not wholly.  Financial independence goes a lot of the way to securing this right, because it means you can afford your own private place to live, so no one can annoy you during your private life, and you don't have to work at a job with annoying coworkers or bosses just to feed yourself.  But it actually goes further than this.  It includes the right to not be insulted, nagged, or bossed around by anyone, whether it's teachers, priests, parents, police, or any other man-made authority figure.  If you never consented to this type of one-sided power structure, it has no moral standing for existing, and therefore it cannot be morally applied to you.  Force and fraud are not the only ways to control other people -- making you financially dependent on their tyrannical whims is just as effective, plus constant societal pressure to conform and accept these authority figures can also work just fine without ever actually having to crack a whip.

In other words, the right to not take shit from anyone means the right to not accept any hierarchical relationship.  You should not have to put up with anyone's insults, nagging, or pressure, regardless of the form it takes, whether it's being dragged to church to be preached to on Sunday, listening through politically correct bullshit in school/college, doing what your parents say in order to avoid their wrath even when they're actually in the wrong, or making up for a boss' mistake because you aren't allowed to say anything in retaliation.  So long as you aren't bothering anyone else, no one has the right to bother you.  It couldn't be any simpler.  If you aren't in a hierarchical relationship, you can always simply insist on being left alone, and this state of solitude is everyone's essential human right given to us by God, our vacuum right.  This right extends to the right to not have our senses be assaulted by overly loud, smelly, or eye catching objects from outside.  It also extends to not being constantly interrupted by strangers who knock on the door or call your phone in order to sell their products to you, people who stuff your mailbox with advertisements, pop-up ads and malware online, spam in email boxes, so on and so forth.  No one should be able or allowed to infringe on anyone else's senses without their consent.

Even though we are signatories to the UN charter declaring freedom from want and freedom from fear to be human rights, we have not taken any steps to actually live up to our own rhetoric.  In that case, it may still be a long time before we recognize any more fundamental human rights.  But 'the right to not take shit from anyone' is just as important for human happiness as these previous two, or the original three enumerated in the Declaration of Independence.  In a way, it's the most vital human right of all, because without it, all of the other rights can somehow be gotten around and rendered moot.  Until people can't be controlled by any means whatsoever, liberty really doesn't mean much.  Until people are happy, life doesn't mean much.  And until people are left alone, there's no way they can devote any time to themselves, which means it's impossible to pursue our own happiness.  Even if we are granted an adequate standard of living, if we have to grovel for it through a series of humiliating and insulting hierarchical relationships it isn't worth the cost to our pride.  And even if we aren't conquered by foreigners, we're no better off if the people closest to us are still ruling just as tyrannically as before.  The right to not take shit from anyone is the right closest to our hearts, the one thing we desire most in life, and it's pretty bizarre to spend all our time beating around the bush granting these other rights, which are simply tertiary rights, when we still haven't granted the primary and most basic right of them all -- the right to just be left alone.

Since this is a New Year, it's a chance to reflect on what progress humanity can still make from where it is today.  Technological progress will eventually play out, as we reach basic fundamental limits of the laws of physics.  We might be surprised how quickly we reach the final barrier of technical solutions to life's problems.  Without moral progress, mankind will never be happy, no matter what gadgets we invent.  And moral progress starts with treating others with kindness and respect.  There is nothing more respectful or kind than letting people be themselves and do their own thing.  Spewing venom on them in an attempt to 'reform' them into people more useful to ourselves is an assault, it's turning people into a means instead of an end in themselves, no matter how prettily you dress it up.  It doesn't matter if you're 'saving their souls from damnation,' or 'teaching them the ways of the world' or 'giving them the values they need to succeed in the 21st century' or whatever the excuse may be at the time.  It's the same purpose every time, insult and demean and humiliate people until they are broken into the saddle, and then ride them all the way to the bank.  The one freedom we need most in life is freedom of association.  Until we get that, the rest won't matter a lick.

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