Universal Right

There can be a big difference between theory and practice. Things that look good on paper don’t always work when you put them together in real life. As a composer, I’m very aware of this, in fact a lot of 20th century art music looks better on paper than it sounds. As a preacher, some ideas are better in the imagination and look better on the page than how they sound in the pulpit. This also seems to work in legislation as well.

Take this video. I know, I rarely ask you to look at videos, but look at this one. It’s amazing: two men attempt to exercise the same legal right and are treated entirely differently in similar situations.

The minor point I’d like to make is the first cop’s question: why do you feel you need to open carry an AK-47, even if you have the right to do so? Sure, if I were carrying all the Church’s wealth on my person and didn’t want to get robbed, I’d be tempted, however having the big gun would probably tip someone off there’s something special about me. I don’t know about you, but I prefer stealth mode whenever I can use it. If I were robbing a man carrying an AK-47, I could probably get him if I could sneak up on him, since the gun doesn’t detect danger on its own. As far as I know, no one out there is eager to kill me, and if they were, they could take their shot from hiding. Actually, since I trust in God’s infinite Mercy, meeting my Maker isn’t high on my anxiety list. Money’s never mine for long, so although I’d rather not be robbed and try to avoid it, I’m not worried about losing it in a robbery too much: life is more important than money anyway. It’s not my desire to become a soldier or a law enforcement representative, so physical protection of others isn’t my prime business (mental and spiritual protection doesn’t need armaments.) I’m not interested in hunting, which is a good reason to carry a weapon, so I’m not open or concealed carrying, no matter where I go.

The major point is a Right only part of the people can exercise isn’t fair or just. It becomes a privilege, which is an entirely different case (and asks the question: why should I have the privilege and not them?). We pride ourselves on being fair and equitable people, so if I have a Right it should be a Right my worst enemy can exercise freely as well, even if they exercise it against me. Otherwise, there is no equal treatment under the law, no true democracy, no real justice. Without equal rights, we’re just like every other country that’s ever existed, where the purpose of some lives is to benefit others without any gain for themselves. If this is really America, then we surely aren’t what we say we are.

So I imagine a test of every new absolute right is whether I’m sure I want everyone else to have it, even people I’m afraid of, even if it causes me trouble I can’t avoid. Tell me, how many rights make sense given this standard? If I want an unearned Universal Right few can truly exercise, what does that say about me?

Sure, Rights should have limits, particular if they could harm innocents. Why give ourselves a Right without thinking it through?

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