“Our rights come from nature and God, and not from government” — spoken by Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan a day or so ago.
The mind reels. Involuntary gag reflex. The Founding Fathers and the Constitution, Ryan seems to be saying, had relatively little to do with our basic freedoms. But what about those from other cultures and past periods who’ve had to struggle under tyranny? If Ryan is truly a man of God then he surely understands that God rules over all things, and therefore all nations. Which means, according to Ryan’s belief, that God has personally seen to the misery of tens of millions over the millenia, as most people over the last three or four thousand years have suffered under despotic, royal, authoritarian, non-Democratic regimes.
Perhaps Ryan is saying that the hunger to live and breathe and speak freely are inherently bestowed or instilled by a cosmic entity, whether or not these rights are successfully fought for, won and enjoyed. So maybe Ryan isn’t saying that the human rights are God-delivered or assured. Maybe he’s saying that the the freedoms enjoyed by citizens of liberal free societies begin as natural eternal longings, and whether or not they’re able to enjoy them is contingent on the luck of the draw and whether or not they’ve got that fighting spirit. By this understanding, the will to be free isn’t that strong among humans or we’d have seen the emergence of democratic governments a thousand or two thousand years ago instead of two hundred thirty-six years ago.
I don’t think most people are going to go this deep. I think most people are going to read the above statement and think, “What a simplistic-minded Sunday-school asshole.”