Which Is The Greater Right?

Washington DC 6

(FreeImages.com/GregPinkston)

I was recently involved in a friendly debate/discussion regarding rights.  I awoke this morning, thinking about individual rights, and my conclusion to the matter is also my introduction to this post:

Both the Democratic party and the Republican party support the free exercise of rights.  The debate is really over which right or which freedom is the more important one to protect with legislation.

Which is the greater right?

I am going to do my best to respectfully express both views and the rights and/or freedoms that are being debated by each side of the arguments.

I will try to not over-simplify the issues, but realize, for the sake of clarity, the arguments will be abridged.

I. Gun Rights Vs. Gun Control

Gun Right activists believe in the right to protect oneself and to bear arms.  They believe that, according to their Second Amendment rights, they should be able to buy firearms in order to defend themselves or another innocent citizen from dangerous criminals.

Gun Control activists believe in enforcing stricter laws to protect the welfare and safety of the general public.  Their goal by enforcing stricter gun control laws is to prevent criminals from having as easy access to weapons that can be used to harm the general public.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Freedom To Protect Oneself & Bear Arms

Vs.

Protecting The Welfare Of The General Public

Note: There is much more to this debate.  For example, Gun Right Activists debate how personal firearms have been used in numerous occasions to protect citizens.  They also argue that criminals never obey laws so gun regulation is really about curbing the rights of law-abiding citizens rather than criminals.

Gun Control Activists argue that they are for legislating the regulation of specific types of firearms.  For clarity, see the following link, differentiating the types of firearms and what those actual terms mean: http://www.gunsandcrime.org/guntypes.html

II. Wearing A Burka In Public

Vs.

Public Safety (Travel) — Protecting The Welfare of The General Public

France passed a law on April 11, 2011, preventing the wearing of Burkas in public places.  The argument, supporting this legislation, was for the safety of the general public.  To understand some of these issues at stake, read the following: http://www.dw.com/en/five-years-into-ban-burqa-divide-widens-in-france/a-19177275.

The argument supporting an individual’s right to wear a Burka in public places falls under the category of Freedom of Religion.  Those arguing in support of Burka-wearing in public places believe that individuals should have the right to exercise their personal religious convictions.

The argument against Burka-wearing in public places is that religion is a private matter and should not be expressed when it places the public sector at greater risk.

Freedom Of Religion (Within The Public Sector) Vs. Welfare Of The General Public

Bill of Rights

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

III. Socialized Healthcare Vs. Individual Health Plan Options

The arguments for socialized healthcare is that every individual should have access to the same healthcare as everyone else.

The arguments for individual health plan options are that individuals should have the option whether they want to purchase healthcare or not, to have healthy competition within the healthcare marketplace, and to have options when it comes to the price and quality of their healthcare.

For more information on this debate, see the following sites: http://healthcare.procon.org/ and http://www.balancedpolitics.org/universal_health_care.htm.

Right For Every Citizen To Obtain Proper Healthcare

Vs.

Right To Have Individual Freedom Of Choice In Their Own Healthcare

Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

IV. School Vouchers Vs. Mandatory School/Property Tax

The argument for school vouchers is that citizens feel they should have a say in where their money goes and therefore greater choice in the where and what of their children’s education.

Those supporting mandatory school taxes argue that it is the government’s responsibility to insure that all children receive a proper education.  (Therefore, the government needs to tax its citizens in order to cover the costs of education.)

Freedom To Choose What Type Of Education Your Children Receives And To Have A Say In Where Your Money Goes

Vs.

Right To An Education

The argument could be made that this over-simplifies the issue because vouchers do not prevent children from having an education.  It merely gives greater opportunities in the selection of educational choices.

V. A Woman’s Right To Choose (What Affects Her Body) Vs. The Unborn’s Right To Life

The argument in support of a woman’s right to choose abortion is that it’s her body and therefore, her choice.  It is argued that she should not be forced to become a mother if she doesn’t want to be.

The arguments in support of the unborn’s right to life is that the unborn baby is a separate being (separate blood types, different gender, different physical characteristics, different DNA, etc…) — a human.  Therefore, it is argued that the unborn baby has the right to the most fundamental and basic of human rights: the right to life.  It is argued that the child’s right to life should not be based upon its ability to defend itself or upon its dependence upon another to survive.

Freedom To Exercise Personal Choice Vs. Right To Life

Declaration Of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,

VI. LGBT Couple’s Right To Hire Any Professional Or To Shop From Any Business They Choose

Vs.

A Private Business Owner’s Right To Choose With Whom They Make Business Transactions, Based Upon Personal, Religious Convictions

The arguments in support of the LGBT Community’s right to shop where they want is that they should have equal opportunity to obtain the same goods and services as any other individual.

The arguments in support of the private business owner’s right to choose with whom they interact with in business transactions is that they should be able to choose how they operate their own personal business and that they should not be forced to do something that goes against their religious or moral convictions.

Again, this is another sticky debate — with many sides to consider.

It is argued that views against homosexuality are a personal matter and therefore should be kept out of the public sector.  In addition, it is argued that every paying citizen should have equal access to services.

It is also argued that private business owners should not be forced to do something that goes against their religious convictions, thus infringing on the Freedom Of Religion.

It could be argued that there are many choices available from where to shop, and you don’t have to force your lifestyle/opinions on another.  The point of this blog is NOT to make a stand for or against this issue, but I would say that my husband and I choose to not shop at various stores due to the dubious ingredients they use, due to the offensive content of the merchandise they carry, and/or due to unfair business or trade practices they use.

It could also be argued that there would be a major civil issue if business owners started to withhold their services to various groups of people, based upon their ethnic or religious backgrounds. Again, the point of this blog is NOT to make a stand for or against this issue, but I would be upset if a business owner decided to prevent me from shopping at their store due to my religious affiliation.

Once again, the debate is over which right or freedom is perceived as the most important:

The Right For All Citizens (Regardless Of Lifestyles/Values) To Have Equal Opportunity Vs.

Freedom Of Religion (To Exercise Religious Values Within The Public Sector)

Note: I need to clarify that this is not preventing religion within the private sector, but it is preventing the free exercise of religious views by a private business that interacts with the public sector.

Bill Of Rights

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

What I find interesting is, when you look at each of these separate issues and then at the issues at whole, people often pick and choose which right and freedom they support — rather than the actual right or freedom those issues support.  When you look at the actual freedoms and rights these issues represent, you see that there are double-standards on both sides of the political parties.

If we want to see these issues with clarity, maybe we need to stop shouting the buzz-words and being distracted by all of the personal issues but instead look at the issues from the standpoint of which right or freedom is truly the more important freedom or right to defend.

One final thought: I actually think it is possible, in a number of these cases, to be able to find a solution that integrates and supports the rights and freedoms of both groups/individuals. 

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No Neutral!

roller coaster

(FreeImages.com/JamesWilliams)

We often think we can live in neutral.  Neutral sounds safe.  It sounds free of risk and rejection.

The problem with neutral is that neutral isn’t neutral.

Neutral is coasting either uphill or downhill.  We can debate the mechanics of this and argue that if the grade is even then there is no movement.  The problem with this is that life isn’t even.

Ambivalence is my escape or pretend stance when I don’t want to make a choice — when the choices facing me are uncomfortable, and I feel trapped.  Ambivalence is a paltry excuse, but it really isn’t a legitimate explanation.  It’s the coward way.

We take the neutral stance when we want to avoid confrontation or uncomfortable decisions.

I grew up as a “people-pleaser.”  I majorly dislike confrontation.  I would rather avoid people and conversations that are going to go in an unpleasant direction.  Sometimes, that’s the wise thing to do.  If someone is contentious, there is no profit to arguing with them.

Sometimes being a “people-pleaser” means I avoid confrontation so much that I am avoiding myself — that I am avoiding being the person God wants me to be and not doing the things He wants me to do because they require risk and potential rejection. 

People-pleasers really aren’t about pleasing others; they are really about avoiding rejection.  They will avoid rejection — even if it means they avert erecting necessary boundaries in their lives.

I grew up among a group of people that stressed obedience and submission for children and women.  It was stressed so much that to assert our voices was assumed to be rebellion and an unsubmissive heart.  The truth is that view is suppression!

As a parent of five children, I am trying to find balance.  I want my kids to feel heard and valued.  I also want my kids to learn respect and honor.  It can be tough to find that middle ground.  …But I want my kids to feel valued and heard and at the same time be respectful and obedient.

Note: As a woman and wife, my opinions do matter, and my voice should be heard.  It’s a foolish husband who silences his wife and doesn’t listen to her wise cautions and insights.

In finding our voices, it is easy to fall into the trap of demanding we are heard, and that doesn’t produce positive results. 

I want to be a woman of dignity who knows when to establish healthy boundaries, who knows when to speak up and when to stay silent, who knows which battles/hills are worth “dying on,” and who is willing stand for truth, regardless of who is for or against her.

There is never a neutral though.  If you choose silence, it shouldn’t be out of intimidation or fear.  If you choose to walk from a conflict, it should be because you are establishing healthy boundaries and avoiding unhealthy interactions — not because you are being a coward.

It’s hard to be honest and truthfully evaluate why we avoid or engage in conflict. 

I have been doing a study on the book of Mark in the Bible.  It struck me powerfully that Jesus approaches people in such a manner that you can’t remain neutral about Him.

So often, we think we can be neutral about God too.  We don’t understand or don’t like the things we don’t understand about Him so we either avoid Him or try to change Him to fit our ideals.  We pretend He doesn’t exist, or we take the coward way and think we don’t need to make any decision about Him until He performs according to our demands (jumps through our hoops).

The problem is you can’t be neutral about God.

You are either for or against Him.

To not make a decision concerning God isn’t remaining neutral, it’s making the decision to not accept Him.  You can make that decision, but do you want to live with the full ramifications of that decision?  Is that a “hill you want to die on”?

In Mark 3, we see how various people and characters interacted with Jesus.  They were either pursuing Him, running from Him, or accusing Him.

I read the following quote in my CBS study guide:

Consider each of the groups who interact with Jesus in this lesson.  The crowds of people who converge upon Jesus and His disciples are not neutral; they identify, hate, and fear the Son of God.  The 12 men who are appointed by Jesus to be apostles are not neutral; they have given up everything to respond to His call.  Those who are close to Him in a familial way are not neutral; they doubt His sanity and attempt to halt His ministry.  The religious leaders are not neutral; they accuse Him of being possessed and empowered by Satan and seek to destroy His credibility.

As you observe Jesus Christ through Mark’s narrative, personal neutrality is not an option.  …“Whoever is not with Me is against Me.”  (Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23)

We might think we are being neutral when it comes to life, but we aren’t.  Your decisions and the way you live your life is either with/for God or against God.  To not move with God is to slow down and prevent His work in your life and in the lives of others that you influence. 

“Choose you this day whom you will serve…”

Joshua 24:15

15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

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A Simple Life Is A Contented Life

daisy in hand

(FreeImages.com/Ne¾a Èerin)

It was August.  I was rushing everywhere.  Life had me on a merry-go-round — that is, the life I had chosen…  In one of my reflective moments, God’s still, small voice spoke to my heart, “A simple life is a contented life.”  It struck me.

A simple life is a contented life.

Most of us are rushing around, striving, struggling, doing, trying to prove… what?  We are trying to prove that we aren’t our parents, that we are significant, that we are intelligent, that we are worthy, that we are pretty, that we are one of the best mommies out there, that we are the “all-American” family…

If we are honest, that’s what this is all about, most of the time.  The problem is we are rarely really honest with ourselves nor do we take the time to ask those pointed questions.  God will, if we will listen.  The problem is we are too busy rushing to listen.

And God…  He keeps speaking into our chaos and calling us to Himself.  We don’t need to be more.  We don’t need to prove. 

We don’t need silly craziness that stresses us and makes us less able to be the spouse and parent we need to be.  In addition to all that stress that makes us less gracious and patient, we then add shame because we should be able to do everything on our agenda and be super-mommy, super-nanny, super-chef, super-cleaner…

Right after God showed me that simple but profound truth, a simple life is a contented life, I was talking with a mom of quite a few kids.  She was expressing that she was feeling that maybe she should do more outside of the home with her kids.  I looked at that mom, and I saw a contented woman.  She was peaceful, restful, and happy.  Her kids were content and happy.  I then told her what God had shown to me: “A simple life is a contented life.” 

Those other voices, telling her to be more and to do more were trying to steal her joy and her peace.  They were trying to tell her that being a good mother is equated to running like crazy.

This summer, I ran like crazy, I confess.  I remember though saying, “I feel like I am doing more things for my kids than with my kids.”  That’s the trap with this never-ending crazy cycle of busyness.  What do your kids really want?  For what are they going to remember you?  For how you ran or for how you spent time with them?

The same is true with our possessions.  More doesn’t equate to happiness.  You can’t buy happiness.  You just become a greater prisoner to the things you own.  There are more things to replace, to repair, more debts to pay off, more financial strain which leads to relationship strain, more fears, and suddenly, a simpler life sounds more appealing.

Remember, a simple life is a contented life.

Perhaps, we need to make changes to the life we choose to live.

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