Our rights and our duties

Our rights should be restated, so the rights of any citizen shall be the rights of all citizens.


In the United States, we have considered the political rights of all citizens: freedom of speech, the right to vote, freedom of the press, equal justice under law.  We are moving towards the right to a free education, to Medicare for All, and even to affordable housing.  These are economic rights.   I think the time has come to restate all rights as one, and to include all duties as one.

Our rights should be restated, so the rights of any citizen shall be the rights of all citizens.  And the duties of any citizen shall be the duties of all citizens.  If the nation can afford to permit some citizens economic and political enjoyment at a certain level, then all citizens should have the same rights.  At the same time, if the society can demand certain duties of any citizen, then in return it can demand the same duties of all others.

Political rights (speech, press, treatment by the courts, and so on) can be stated and done universally.  Economic rights are more difficult, because they are not without limits, and the question arises as to how they should be stated.  But if a large group of citizens can enjoy incomes of (say) $100,000 annually, then all citizens should have that right.  And if the society has goods and services left over after disbursing such income, the rest should go to the society for the benefit of all.

So far as duties are concerned, these might include the obligation to accept education and training so that the individual may better perform duties.  And it should include the obligation to work a certain amount of time each year to benefit the society and earn the income provided by the society.

Certain things (like income) should be guaranteed.  Other things (such as celebration and the granting of political power) should be offered as opportunities in carrying out duties.  These are the rights which citizens can earn from their capabilities. and they can provide motivation, since economic and political rights would be equal.

I am part of a philosophy group which has been studying various philosophies, one of them being Jainism, an ancient Indian philosophy.  One of the tenets of this philosophy is compassion, and Jainism teaches that compassion brings happiness, and therefore the Jainists make charity an important part of their lives.  They are wealthy people because of their creativity and hard work.  But they don’t hang onto their wealth in excess.  They give to charity and also as a small group in India they pay 25% of all the taxes collected.  They don’t fight to hang onto every rupee.  

This leads me to the principles of a happy society:

  1. Compassion: No citizen should lack for food, clothing, water, housing, education, and medical care, as well as any other good or service needed to have a happy life.
  2. Charity: Every citizen should give back to the society to the best of his or her ability, either voluntarily or through a social funding system.
  3. Recognition: Every person who achieves and benefits society should be recognized and celebrated.
  4. Love: Every citizen should care for every other citizen and the happiness of that citizen.
  5. Duty: Every citizen should be eager to do his or her duty to the society and to other citizens.
  6. Equality: Every citizen should have the same political, social and economic rights as every other citizen, and should bear the same duties to the society as every other citizen.
  7. Freedoms: Every citizen may engage in any activity or hold any belief so long it does not violate any principle. 

Citizens are forbidden to violate any of these principles.  

If these principles are important, then we should discuss that should be done so that the goals of these principles can be achieved.


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