Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rights, Authority and its excercise

Humans are generally obsessed with rights. Historical documents like Magna Carta of England, Cyrus' tablet or our very own Emperor Ashoka's edicts are examples of humans attempting to enshrine the rights.

Most of democracies today grants certain rights and liberties to its citizenry. Some of the rights we just take it for granted, like the right to live etc. For most of the citizenry rights are just taken for granted, rather only when the rights are denied, we raise hue and cry over its deprivation.

Rights, by their very nature, is an anathema to power.(or to exertion of authority) But humans, as a collective entity, have always subjected themselves to power and authority. We always prefer a leader to guide us , right? Anarchism, a philosophy which advocates complete elimination of authority( or government) is yet to be successfully implemented any where in this world. hence the question of eliminating authority is impractical, at least for now. So how do we explain this contradiction. I guess like all things in life, even politics is a mix of rights and authority. Democracies gives greater priority in expanding rights, while a autocratic system tends to extend the scope of authority.

There is also a curious question of exercising the said rights granted to individuals. Mere granting of rights does not imply an individual has to exercises it. In the parody movie Monty Phyton: Life of Brian, one of the disgruntled folk talks about the desire to have babies. It is every woman's right to conceive (or abort) a baby, but the queer complication in the movie is that the person who wants to have a baby is a gent!! So finally after due deliberations they agree on the fact that every male has the right to have babies, except that this right cannot be exercised by the said individual due to factors beyond one's control. The funniest part is that they passed a resolution demanding the grant of such rights from the imperialist Romans.( they were the occupying Jerusalem , in this case they represent the authority).

So do we need rights that can be hardly be exercised?

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