The Rights of One

There’s an old saying that states if one person’s rights and freedoms are trampled with impunity, then no one’s rights are safe. If we, as a society, stand idly by and let freedoms be desecrated, then we’re all just standing in line to have our rights revoked next. In such a land, no man is truly free, instead, we're all just living off of borrowed time.

The idea is that we’re supposed to stand up for the rights of others, including those we don’t know and don’t agree with, to protect our own liberties in the face of oppression. Though it's definitely a significant and noble concept that has an importance which can not be understated, the notion has a flip side that’s seldom explored and, sadly, often ignored.

For, if we have an obligation to stand up for the rights of others, it is equally important that we stand up for our own. After all, how can we ever hope to effectively stand up for strangers if we refuse to do so for ourselves. Worse still, how can we ever hope to enjoy our rights when we refuse to play an active role in protecting them.

Yet how many times have we taken a wrongdoing simply because we don’t want to deal with it, we don’t feel like fighting or it’s just plain easier to let it go? Even though we all have to pick our battles, it never ceases to amaze me how many people refuse to stand up for themselves, even though their rights are directly tied to the freedoms of everyone around them.

A lot of this is because we’re in a society that values selflessness and frowns upon anything perceived as being selfish. We want people to keep their heads down, be quiet and roll with the punches. We look at society as a machine and we don’t want anything to interfere with its workings.

However, we quickly forget that injustice rarely stops at one person and that by protecting our rights, we can protect the rights of others as well. After all, if we don’t stop the infringement, it will just continue to roll on through to the next person and the next, until someone stands up to it.

Sometimes the more selfless thing to do is to stand up for ourselves, to put forth the effort in protecting ourselves from an injustice to prevent it from happening to anyone else. Sometimes the effort we spend fighting for our own rights can save countless others from a similar fate.

So yes, we must stand up for others whenever possible, we must defend the rights of those we’ve never met and never will see. However, we must also protect ourselves. Security, in every respect of the word, starts at home and looking at it solely in terms of the big picture makes it far too daunting a challenge to tackle.

The real battle is going on right now and the time to take a stand is upon us all. Whether we choose to fight or roll over will not only determine our future as a person, but our destiny as a people. And that destiny, good or bad, is what our children and our children’s children will inherit. If we can’t do it for ourselves, we have to do it for them.

There simply is no alternative.

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13 Responses to The Rights of One

  1. Talia says:

    you have a really good perspective of things Raven. good work

  2. billy says:


  3. Matt says:

    Interesting, and undeniably valid.. But where did that come from? I get the distinct feeling of a PBS special telling students, "You have to stand up for yourself!"
    I'd be curious to learn what sparked this particular tangent.

  4. Tamara says:

    thats what im constantly trying 2 explain 2 everyone. and i copletely agree that everyone has 2 learn 2 stand up 4 their right b4 they can help anyone else

  5. DyingYouth says:

    I fully agree with this rant and untill the pulic relizes that America is quickly moving toward an American dictatorship

  6. CepticTorch says:

    You have a very good point, Raven. If we are to ever change the direction in which this country and this world is headed, we must be willing to stand up for ourselves and others. It is a shame that so many people just let big corporations and the government walk all over them, but at the same time it is understandable in a sense. It is very intimidating for alot of people to challenge those that are "bigger than them". O.o Wow. I just repeated what you said, I just did not use as many words. O.o Oh well, the point remains you have a valid…well…um…point. We must take arms up against our opressors and speak loudly and clearly for all the world to hear! No longer can our rights slowly be stripped away because no one is willing to stand up for what is consitutionally ours! The time for patience and turning the other cheek is over! Join me my brothers and sisters! We shall march upon Washington D.C. and demand the rights that have been stripped away, returned to us, and fire the guy who is not doing a very good job of running this country! DOWN WITH GEORGEY! We can not , as DyingYouth said, let our once great country continue on this path to a dictatorship! Bwa Ha!

  7. Ivy says:

    To read something like this, in my world, is beyond words. I have been recently doing some research on someone in particular that touches my heart to it's inner core, Matthew Shepard. To see a soul taken away without a chance to fight back kills me. This has inspired in so many ways. It has made me want to put the word out there, to help. There is many more people I look up to as well that helped people in their time of need from the famous to your every day people. Seeing it puts a smile on my face. As what your words say now. I have been feeling down lately, stressed. Today wasn't my best, you really put a big smile on my face. Thank You. Thank you very much. = )

  8. The 4th Horseman says:

    Laughing my ___ off here. Freedom? Change the sytem? Make things better for the future/children? Same ole rhetoric I heard as a child. Man this society is so far past the point of no return. Stock in Lye is bound to go up. Invest today!!!

  9. reina says:

    i agree with this…however, i've always been the one that just seems to roll…i've tried to change…but i can't…all though i know i can win even in a fight…i choose not to fight because well…i've had a eputation as being "nice" for so long…and also you can get into trouble for such fights…there's not an easy way to stand up for yourself without paying a price…and well…for me it just seems that my life is fine even if i dont stand up…but i want to mke sure that if i ever have kids, that they will not be like me..i want them to have confidence and freedom. i really like this one^_^ it's quite inspiring (and to the guy below me…i'll take the high road and say "shut up"…trust me i coulda gone much worse>_> )

  10. Rick in PA says:

    I will start by saying I really don't know how I found this site tonight, I was searching for someithing elase and clicked the link that took me here. So I took a look around and found myself reading this under "Rants". Today is one day after the leader of AlQueida in Iraq qas killed. I was watching the new about it this eveniing and the good ole USA was illustrating how they kelled this murderer. There was video of the bomb that hit the house where he was, there was video of the his dead face. There also was an interview with the fateer of an amercan that he supposedly beheaded. Mr Berg was asked how he thought this would impact the war on terrorism. He replied by saying that this man was an evil person, but, he did not know how the death of another human could really make a difference. I know this is a long way to got to get to my point. So here it is. We as a race "the human race", need to stop taking others lifes, as well as stop applauding when this is done. It is correct that we must stand up for our rights, for our children and the generation to folloe. We just need to figure out a way to do so without taking others lives. We did not create life, nor should we take life. Thats all we need to stop killing people of our race. The Human Race.

    Peace to all.

  11. Raven says:

    Thank you

  12. Diane says:

    That's why I believe in the quote by Socrates: 'I may not agree with a thing you say, but I will defend to the death, your right to say it.'

  13. Niraj K. Yadav says:

    Excellent rant – and one I agree with wholeheartedly – but I have to ask – where does politics fit into this?

    Our lawmakers have pulled the wool over our eyes by creating more rules, regulations, laws and then amending them to death just so they can retain their power structure over the sheep that the members of our society have become – we do need to fight, always, but it is very easy to become dejected and realize that we are but a drop of water in the endless sea.

    Thank you for posting this rant online where others can read it and learn from it – I only wish my folks would read it, it seems that the older they get they more accepting they are of what is given to and done to them, and sometimes it incenses me to no end.

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