The Lighthouse

solitude + inspiration

28 March 2012

Amended : of rights and wrongs

Living when and where I do, it is sometimes - no, often, if I'm honest - difficult for me to get worked up about women's rights, or get teary-eyed about women's suffrage. I take for granted my right to vote, and expect that my voice will be heard when I express an opinion.

Granted, I do also expect to get condescending treatment from men in places like car lots or mechanic shops, and that there will be times when my opinion counts for less to some people because I am a woman. All the same, I find it very hard to imagine what it was like for women in the years before the vote was granted them - us - when they - we - were legally considered chattel. While it doesn't sit right with me that women had to wait 50 years after all men in the US, regardless of race, colour, or 'previous condition of servitude' (15th Amendment, 1870) could vote, it has since become so entrenched in our culture that I don't even question it.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so complaisant.  Nothing encourages deterioration and decay quite like inattentiveness and apathy does it? Consider first amendment rights today. The Founding Fathers of the US Constitution thought the freedoms of speech and religion were so important, they submitted the First Amendment for ratification only two years after the Constitution was first adopted. Do we treasure the freedoms of speech and religion as much as they did?

There has been a media event recently, involving an actor and his publicly stated opinion on a certain rainbow-appropriating lifestyle.  He doesn't have the power to enact public policy. He isn't teaching children in a classroom. He wasn't inciting hatred or promoting bullying, He was asked a question in an interview, and he answered frankly and honestly. People may agree or disagree with his statements, but to deny he has the right to express himself is pulling at a thread of US tradition, history, and legal fabric. Judging by the response to his comments, the famous First is only applicable to those who express the correct ideas and opinions.

Where will that lead us, in the end? Will parents be prohibited from teaching their children faith-based morals? Will doctors be legally chastised for providing information contrary to public opinion? Rainbows are bright and cheery - gay, in fact - but the multi-coloured banner represents a physically, spiritually, and socially harmful way of life. But through clever language appropriation, political positioning, and heart string tugging, any expression of concern for well being, or attempt to clarify facts is shouted down as intolerance, hatred, or fear.

The law is too subtle and nuanced a thing for a lay person to fully grasp the depth of meaning, intent, and impact of the written words. However, it isn't beyond the ken of a lay person to understand that times and trends are changing, even in the law, and to believe those changes are not for the better. What concerns me, is that we are more aware of and concerned with rights and freedoms than we are with rights and wrongs.

We can take our rights and priveleges for granted, until one day we realize that while we weren't looking, they've been taken from us, and we're chattel once more.

9 comments:

Bobby said...

I've said for a long time Tess, that just because we have a Constitutional right to something doesn't mean exercising that right is the correct thing to do.

Sarah said...

Whoa. Very sobering thoughts indeed. Have you been reading the scary book again?

Tess said...

Bobby, do you mean that the actor in question shouldn't have expressed his views?
I agree with you: legal rights are not the same as what is morally right.

Sarah, this is fallout from having read The Scary Book, as well as paying too much attention to the news, I think. I'm frustrated at the lack of logic, common sense, and simple charity.

I just shake my head at the lunacy I see happening around me. Keep your eye on our honourable Premier - we will see some creative tap dancing through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms from him before he's done with us.

Lord have mercy.

Bobby said...

No Tess, what I mean is that rights can be either moral or immoral, and their applications can also exhibit these same characteristics. For instance, there is a 'right' to abortion, yet exercising that right is immoral and not the correct thing to do.

And again, we may have the freedom of speech, yet it is a double edged sword. It allows us to express ourselves in action and word, yet these same expressions can ridicule, disrespect and all together tear down the dignity of persons. Rights are there for us to enjoy, yet they can and are abused.

When truth is expressed through the right of free speech, someone may be offended. In the case of the actor, it was not the exercising of his right that offended, but the truth he spoke if I understood correctly. I believe he was making a statement about the lifestyle that was not endearing to those who promote that lifestyle.

Our opinion of someone, if not based on truth, is subjective and should make us pause before opening our mouth, but the expressing of Truth should never be silenced, no matter who gets offended. Does any of this make sense?

Tess said...

Yes,it makes sense.

This goes beyond the actor, of course. As you say, it comes down to truth. But how can the truth be told, if prophets, priests, teachers, doctors, etc. are not allowed to speak?

Bobby said...

The Truth is always allowed to be told no matter the consequences. Throughout all history, God has revealed His Truth even though the messengers were reviled. Though laws may prohibit free speech, there will always be those that God chooses to speak the Truth no matter the outcome. This calls for the virtue of heroic courage, and it comes from Him. The Truth can never nor will it ever be silenced, no matter who is Caesar du jour.

Tess said...

Caesar du jour - very good!

Officially, our laws ought still to be protecting our liberties, such as speech. It are the courts and political action groups, extra-judicial tribunals (here in Canada our scourge is the Human Rights Commissions) and public opinion (ie. main stream media) that are limiting those freedoms.

You are entirely right, of course, that the Truth sets us free, and all will come right in the end. In the meantime, I am tempted to become a hermit.

Bobby said...

You were not created to be a hermit Tess, but to go and teach all nations. We are not a light to be put under a bushel basket, but to shine the Truth on all. Courage dear sister, courage. Truth will never be limited. Our ancestors in the Church, our Communion of Saints that were martyred were also faced with limitations but spoke the Truth nonetheless. They've been where we are Tess, we are connected with our ancient Church. Take hope in that and please...stop reading that Scary Book! ;)

Tess said...

May a cave not have a light shone in its darkness? Perhaps my little ray is meant to glow in solitude.

Be easy... I'm only kidding. Mostly. I am a semi-hermit, living and working in the world, and I will continue to pray for souls, with complete hope and trust in the Truth. Ok, not exactly *complete*, but a good dose of hope and trust, anyway.