So what’s the big deal? What is this song the culture is singing and why does it bother me so much?
The lyrics that pop up in every verse and every chorus include words like choice, control, individualism, dignity, deserve and, overall: ‘rights’.
A focus on these things suggests, and then begins to develop, a very selfish, self-centred, self-focussed society. They carry with them a sense of demanding something, something to which we feel we are entitled.
Yet which of us really deserves anything? If you think about it, deep down, do you really believe you have done anything to deserve life at all, let alone an easy life, with a certain level of health, wealth and happiness?
We have absolutely nothing by right. Everything we have is a gift, either from a loving God or, if you don’t believe in Him, from the fates or from chance.
What we do have, common to all, are needs.
Core survival needs: oxygen, liquid, nourishment and shelter.
Humanitarian needs (the things that make us not just alive, but human): love, relationships, employment (not necessarily paid, just ‘something to do’), creativity, exercise.
These things are what we need to get by. There are certain other things that we can live without, but without which we are just living, not flourishing, not fulfilled in the way God designed us to be. I hesistate to write them down, as it is in these things that the demands for rights get animated and often come into conflict, but I think in a perfect world we will be seeking to give each other the space and facility to exercise them:
Flourishing needs: a certain level of freedom and autonomy, opportunity, adventure, access to education, to art, to culture.
There are probably more, but I’ll come to them in other posts at other times. My point is twofold:
1) We’ve got so comfortable now that the things we’re demanding as our inherent rights are not even things we need to survive, they’re the cherries on the cake. What kind of person, handed a piece of cake at a party, has a tantrum because there’s no cherry on it?
2) Campaigning for rights, even when you’re altruistically seeking the rights of some disadvantaged group, puts the focus on what governments and other authorities should provide – it shifts the onus from what we as compassionate human beings should seek to do. I’d love to see a world in which people looked out for the needs of others – a society of servants, perhaps, a generous generation.
Wouldn’t that be a nicer world to live in? A world where everyone has what they need and is thankful for it, rather than a world where everyone has what they want but a) thinks they’ve got it by their own merit and b) wants more.