Alyssa Ahlgren: Your Rights Are Your Privilege

Let me ask a seemingly basic question for which the answer flies over the heads of many. What is a right?

Bill of Rights

Let me ask a seemingly basic question for which the answer flies over the heads of many. What is a right? We often hear phrases from all points of the ideological spectrum such as “healthcare is a right” or “I have a fundamental right to vote.” The word ‘right’ is mercilessly abused to push a political agenda or simply out of lack of understanding. It’s used as a substitute for privileges and necessities. The privileges afforded to you from living in a free and prosperous nation do not constitute rights. Neither do the requirements necessary to live. This is a distinction important for preserving a nation rooted in freedom and individual liberty.

In the United States of America our unalienable rights are recognized in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the Bill of Rights of our constitution. These unalienable rights are in accordance with natural law and transcend man and government. They are a divine inheritance we receive as children of God. The founders knew this and stated as such, which is why they saw democratic rights unequivocally recognized in the Constitution as necessary. Yes, our unalienable rights are an undisputed reality but the freedom to exercise those rights is not. Simply acknowledging that we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not a guarantee that we can act in accordance with them. It takes a Constitutional Republic with the central unwavering purpose of protecting individual sovereignty and providing the freedom to exercise those God given rights. Our rights are inherent, our liberty is a privilege.

We live in the entitlement era. Our decisions are not dictated by systemic oppression, we have a standard of living never seen in human history, and with technological and medicinal innovation our lives are more convenient and accessible than ever before. It’s easy to become complacent. It’s easy to think of these gifts as rights because they have been an integral part of our lives for so many generations. But, before you start espousing that services such as healthcare are a right, ask yourself if it’s something that would be inherent in our lives if government didn’t exist. That’s how you juxtapose a privilege against a right. If government was gone tomorrow what would you have? You have the right to defend yourself (this includes owning weaponry for such defense), the right to own your labor, the right to worship, to associate, and the right to have no man rule over you without consent. Healthcare, on the other hand, is a necessity not a right. Necessary for survival is not the litmus test for a right. Food is a necessity. However, I don’t have the right to steal from the grocery store because I need to eat to live.

What many people won’t accept is that our country is a beacon of freedom through our unparalleled protection of natural human rights. Nowhere else on earth can you find a constitution that is comparable to the United States Constitution. Civil liberties like voting, free speech, due process, and private property are not guaranteed. They are only present because our founding documents were forged with the understanding that our unalienable rights must be preserved at all costs. These liberties are privileges not only because they are not mirrored in every nation but because they can also be taken away. You have a civic duty to act responsibly and any action taken to threaten the safety or property of others is a forfeit of your freedom to exercise your rights. Rights come with responsibilities. One cannot exist without the other. Many treat this American privilege as if it were commonplace around the world and are willing to infringe upon it in the false name of socialistic communal betterment.

The Constitution has stood the test of time because the people acted and voted in accordance with their understanding that without it our unalienable rights mean nothing, that freedom without freedom to exercise is useless. The founders understood that greater liberty to act upon our rights is coupled with both responsibility and consequences, but that those outcomes far outweigh the tyrannical effects of infringement and limited autonomy. If we all view our constitutional rights for what they are, privileges, then we value our unalienable rights that much more. We will value our fellow man’s right to act upon their liberties whether or not you agree with them.

We live in country built on the foundation the greatest political document in the history of mankind. We live in a place where the steadfast protection of natural rights is the norm not the exception. However, we are starting to lose this understanding. Our rights are continually being threatened with the misguided notion that they may be suppressed and infringed upon to spread more privileges. If we want to continue to live in an unparalleled free country we cannot forget the foundation of our rights. We cannot forget where our freedom came from.