I've been reading a small book on philosophy lately and one of the chapters talks about rights. It splits the notion of rights into three categories - legal rights, which are those provided by a the laws of a state (the right to purchase alcohol at the legal age etc); Moral rights, which are those the we as people have agreed should be afforded one another (the right to a fair trial etc); And human rights, which are the basic rights the we've earned simply by existing (the right to feel safe etc). There are no hard and fast rules on which rights fall into which category, and many can fall into more than one (I would place the right to a fair trial in both the legal and moral categories). When I thought about what constitutes human rights, I decided that the rights to safety and freedom were the only ones that fit that mold. To me, human rights implies a more primitive, instinctive way of looking at ourselves, and anything after that comes from the society we've built up around ourselves. But then the book mentioned the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights - a doctrine set forth after the end of World War II to outline what they believed to be the absolute base level of rights - the starting point for the progression of humanity. I decided to look up the rights myself and I found them very, very fascinating. Here's the 30-rule Declaration, with my impressions added underneath in dot points.
- Just the wording of this rule alone makes it sound inspirational. I find a kind of poetry in the notion that this rule, and everything it implies, is rule number 1 for being a part of the human race..
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
- This final article makes me laugh. it's essentially saying "Don't interpret these laws in a way that we didn't intend for them to be interpreted." That's kind of what I've been doing.