Ideas and Musings

My existence: Rights and Responsibilities

I was on the elliptical machine at 24 Hour Fitness this morning, madly moving in place, contemplating my right to exist. I started doing what I always do. Whenever I start having thoughts that are very disturbing I try to find another way to think about them. I figure, well, if I can think about it like THIS, it won’t affect me as much as thinking about it like THAT. You know, how you use your words affect your reality….yadda yadda

So there I am whirling away thinking “I have the right to exist. I have the right to exist.” Over and over. If I’d had one of those counters I’d be clicking it on my way to 1000 repetitions. “I have the right to exist. I have the right to exist.” Wait a minute, that’s not enough. Ok, how about: “I not only have the right to exist, I have a responsibility to exist.” Yes! Here we go! “I not only have the right to exist, I have a responsibility to exist. I not only have the right to exist, I have a responsibility to exist.” But wait, there’s more! Behind door number 3 there is: AND IT’S MY RESPONSIBILITY TO LIVE AS WELL AS I CAN.” Yeah, that’s a good way to justify my existence and any activities I might engage in. I can let go of these nagging doubts. “I not only have the right to exist, I have a responsibility to exist. AND IT’S MY RESPONSIBILITY TO LIVE AS WELL AS I CAN.” Yeah! Click, Click…Click.

What the fuck am I doing? Turning my Right into a Responsibility? Making my Right dependent on how well I perform my Responsibility. It totally goes against the definition of Right which is, let me check my dictionary here, hell, I might not even know what it really means, ok, jeez there are a lot of definitions, let me look for one that fits what I’m talking about, 16. Something that is due to anyone by just claim, legal guarantees, moral principles, etc… 19. The interest or ownership a person, group, or business has in property. And lot’s of versions having to do with political actions, “correctness,” and body parts.

Well, this is a lot of help! What is “just claim”? What if legal guarantees conflict with perceived “just claims”? I’m back where I started.

Are rights and responsibilities married? Or are they mutually exclusive? Dr Bernie Segal, author of Love, Medicine, and Miracles told the story of a woman who was diagnosed with cancer. Because of her “responsibilities” to her family, she denied her condition. She didn’t want to put out her family by taking care of herself. She died of course. It makes me wonder about her husband, that he knew nothing or did nothing. But that’s another issue. Clearly this woman did not see herself as having the right to exist.

When a person gets promoted to manager they acquire the privileges and responsibilities of that position. You can’t have one without the other. If you try, eventually you get canned, just like the entire management team I worked with at Microsoft did. But that’s another story….

According to some of the online dictionaries, “privilege” is the synonym for “right”. It seems to me, though, that a privilege is something that is given to you. You have the privilege of making your own schedule because you got promoted to manager. I have the privilege of introducing to you, an amazing individual…. You would never say “I have the right to introduce you.” (and let NOTHING get in my way of my god given rights!) Is a right a privilege?

On the other hand, many of us think of our lives as a gift. Something given to us by the Source. In that case, we wouldn’t have the right to exist, we have the privilege to exist. And along with that, the responsibility to live as well as we can. To do our best.

And there in lies the crux of the issue for me. If my life is lived as though it’s a privilege, then it can be taken away. And yes, of course it can be taken away, we have all lost people too soon. But living in that mentality means living in fear. Since I have no real rights to my life, I have to be very careful about fulfilling my responsibilities. And even then, there are no guarantees. I could do everything “right” and my privilege can still be taken away. For any reason, or no reason at all.

If I lived my life as a Right. Then perhaps a fearless mentality would rule and I would do what I want to do and live the way I want to live. I would make decisions based on me.

But do we see people doing this? Oh yes, we see people living their lives as though they were a “right.” Sometimes they do what they want to do without any regard for anyone else. But, if you look closely, do they live well? Are they happy? Do they do the things that help them grow as people and spirits? Or do they focus on making sure the world gives them what they think is their “right?” Interesting question isn’t it?

And what is our responsibility? To do as well as we can? In what way? For ourselves? Our loved ones? Family? Society? The Earth? The Universe? I have heard said that we are powerful beyond all measure. I find it stressful to think that I have failed because I haven’t come into my power enough to save the Universe. I find it stressful to think that such a concept even exists. I find it stressful to think that maybe I should be comparing my experience with Mother Theresa or the Dalai Lama. And who am I to judge myself, or anyone?

I can tell you how I want to live my life. I want to live my life as a Right, while fully understanding that bad things can and will happen, that I may not see tomorrow. I want to let that go and throw myself into the fray and create a life that is totally me. A life in which my only responsibilites are to be fully myself and to not hurt others in the process. To trust that by being fully me that I’ll attend to any other responsibilities to the Universe, even if I don’t know how that will manifest. Even if it seems selfish to me. To realize that I don’t know the big picture or my true place in it but to trust that I’m enough to take that place.

Or maybe this is all fluff…and I’m just avoiding the issue again. 🙂