Over the last days the notion of “rights” have been popping up in different ways and I have thought long and hard on it. Today I read about Obama speaking of the right to same-sex marriage. I think he is a brave man to do this before election, it will cost him votes. Still he does it because it is right, and he doesn’t hold out until he’s (maybe) safe after voting day. Respect!
Yesterday a mother violated the right of her daughter by accessing her Facebook account and deleting some of her friends, me being one of them. It will not change the friendship the girl and I have, but it will change the relationship between mother and daughter and the girl will have learned distrust.
I grew up with a very strict mother who had hard and unrelenting rules. This was not always easy but she could be trusted in that she never violated my privacy; she didn’t search my room, read my diary or go through my pockets, even when she had (rightly) suspicions of rule-breaking such as smoking or alcohol. She allowed us children the sanctuary of our own space. Respect! More than that, she showed me a trust that I brought into my own motherhood and there is trust between my children and myself. Thank you Mother.
The Facebook affair had me thinking; Why is it that parents feel that they have the right to violate their children’s privacy? And demand that the child accepts and respects this? Would they accept any such thing from the child? Of course not, one unauthorized riffle through the jewellery-box and the child is told how bad it is…
The right to make choices without explaining ourselves…what about that one? For example if you say no to somebody, they might demand an explanation as to why. It’s none of their business, they should respect your right to say no. But maybe you are the kind of person that demands explanations? When we make personal choices, we are not accountable to others. If the choice is a bad one, we will have to live with the consequences – accountability is always to the self.
We violate the rights of others in so many little ways every day without thinking about it; by parking in the handicap-place, leaving the lunchroom dirty, demanding attention, cutting ahead in a queue, telling a lie… We all do it, unintentionally, because we take the right. But when somebody does that to us, we get upset and indignantly exclaim: “Who gave him/her the right!” or “You have no right to…”
Moral: If we can’t live within an arena of equal rights in our personal sphere, how on earth can we expect equal rights in a larger arena such as workplace, sexuality, gender, colour. Everything starts at home and it starts at a very early age.