Rights, Privileges, Responsibility, and Surrender

Many of us think we have rights… and there certainly are some rights that we have… like the rights that the constitution provides for us. Some “rights” are not actually rights, but are privileges that we think are rights.

A right is granted by society to its members in order for it to function; a privilege is granted by a group or individual as either a reward for, or conditional upon, continued good behavior. Many people go on about their “rights” with no idea of what it means. – (Nononsensedefense)

One of those is to have a driver’s license. There are plenty of people that believe that having a license is a “right” in our country, but in fact it is a privilege. If you abuse that privilege it can be taken away. One way you can keep your license is to be responsible to care for that privilege.

On another level, we may think that we have a right do whatever we want in a marriage. That will never work in a marriage. The reason being that when I get married, I surrender my “rights” to myself, as I am now becoming one with another human being. When I do, I will become responsible for not only myself, but the well being of the other. This too is a privilege. If I do not, I will believe I have “rights” in the relationship, and attempt to maintain my individuality and believe that my rights are paramount.

Years ago, a relative of mine would “speak her mind” in any situation to anybody, and say something like, “I have a right to say what I think!” She would do this regularly inflicting pain emotionally on others. Technically, in this country, we have the “right” of free speech. But if we abuse that right, we run the risk of being irresponsible by hurting someone just to maintain my “right”. If I surrender that right, I can address an issue with someone in a non hurtful, effective way, which is being responsible with the right I have.

Either way, we find that surrendering the selfish idea that I have rights across the board, and that the maintaining of those rights is paramount to anything else, will help us to care more about others more than ourselves. Which is what we are called to do… Love our neighbor as ourselves.


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