True freedom derives from respect, sharing, service

Jim Burford II /

Published Mar 20, 2013 at 05:00AM

I think a distinction between rights and privileges would be instructive.

Rights — freedom of speech, freedom of the press, to assemble, freedom from religion (state-sanctioned), to keep and bear arms — is not granted by the government, they are an acknowledgement by the government of a God-given right to all persons, as stated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Driving a car is a privilege granted by the governed through their elected representatives for activities other than God-given. It is the responsibility and purpose of government to ensure that God-given rights are protected and preserved.

The right to keep and bear arms is not just about guns, it is about rights. Are they actually a right that transcends popular opinion or is subject to the whims of the political winds?

Majority rule does not trump something that is not granted by majority opinion. Rights are transcendent values that speak to the common state of each and every human being. These transcendent values are expressed as inalienable rights. In the case of guns, the transcendent value is self- protection and preservation and whatever other means are needed to achieve this transcendent value. A right is a right. A transcendent value is a transcendent value.

The abuse of rights here is not only by abusers of their rights but also can be by the government in its role of preserving and protecting those rights.

When someone abuses their rights — the violation of another’s rights — then they have abdicated and forfeited their rights. The same goes for privileges.

We have become a society of preventive enforcement to the degree that everyone is a suspect or a threat, and rights are no longer viewed as rights but as privileges or less. At least that is how it is beginning to feel to me.

The abuse of rights appears to be in direct proportion to a person’s and/or governments’ moral code or lack thereof. Moral codes are informed by many sources, mostly external, digested, incorporated, applied, and expressed both individually and corporately.

I am fortunate in that those influences in my life were convincing and in harmony with the intent and purposes of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Those influences were people living and dead, and events close and far away.

I have come to realize that rights or transcendent values do not end with me or that I am the end destination. I have tried throughout my life to recognize their universality and application and to pay it forward in various ways. My moral code is constantly being refined and fine-tuned. It is the influence of those who cared about me and the potential they saw in me that set the foundation upon which I have built and am still building.

The beauty of our free society is that we can assemble — in churches, nonprofits, clubs and charities — and do good of all kinds. Rather than diminish the rights of others, which diminishes our own rights, how about investing a bit of ourselves in good causes that uphold the worth and value and rights of all persons?

The list is too long to print here, but some who invested in my life were involved in 4-H, Scouting, Outward Bound, church, college, the military and incidental mentors who cared about me and invested a small amount of time and interest in me, even now as I approach retirement age.

When we sow demonization and the negative, then we reap division, suspicion and fear. Let us sow the positives of respect, responsibility, service and sharing. True freedom is the harvest for all.

We all know a child, start investing. Set an example, have fun.