Wednesday, January 5

Alternatives to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit (Part 2)

I had started this project over a week ago (here), hunting for some founding principles based on Christianity not just Theism. That is to say, replacing Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit with strictures based on Christian scripture (Torah and the New Testament). So let's get down to it and see if this will work.

The commandments:
  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain
  4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
  5. Honor thy father and mother
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shall not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbors
And we add the dicta from Leviticus, Love thy neighbor.

So how do we go about changing these restrictions and rules into rights. Well, some of them are easier than others. For the first three, given that the faith communities which make up our country in any way shape or form are not united in their doctrine and belief that in order to be able to follow these rules we must have religious freedom. As to the fourth, I'm going to roll into it the general ideas of family and patriarchy abstracted from Genesis and propose that we need the rights required to protect and establish our family whatever they might be. Postponing that for later, we arrive at thou shalt not kill, steal or commit adultery. What rights might those restrictions confer on me in a Christian society. Well, I might expect not to be killed or my property stolen. Hence perhaps I have a right to property and to not be killed. And I think their is an important distinction between a "right to life" and a "right not be killed". Bestowing on its citizens a "right to life" that seems to me a far greater responsibility than merely a right to "not be killed" by my neighbors. Continuing on (skipping adultery for the moment), with "false witness". To me this indicates that a fair system of jurisprudence is a fundamental right. Finally, as to the last "covetous" commandment, I'm going to take that more as commandment pointed at my personal internal self not at society. This of course may be a misreading of early Hebraic culture, but for now I'll leave it as not applicable to rights or responsibilities for society at large and therefore not relevant.

How do I interpret the thou shall not commit adultery dictum. I think I would interpret it to mean that sexual freedom is not a fundamental defensible right.

Now Love thy neighbor introduces some tensions in our project (perhaps we are doomed). For in loving my neighbor, I cannot stand idly by and see him brining harm to himself. However, what I perceive as harm may in fact be what my neighbor actually desires. However for now, I'm going to leave as giving me a right to Charity.

So what are we left with? I haven't yet boiled down to one poetic phrase, but lets recap:
  • A right to worship my God, or freedom of religion.
  • A right to raise my family in a righteous manner
  • A right not to be killed
  • A right to property
  • A right to a fair system of jurisprudence.
  • A right to charity
  • And we note, sexual freedom is not a right.

So, now the question remains, if I were to insist on these as my fundamental rights instead of life, liberty, the pursuit what changes would that wring in the shaping of our government or how we view today's judicial and legislative decisions? I leave that for another future essay.