Title kinda explains it.
I was driving home from work and started thinking...
And when I got home I wrote some thoughts down...and thought they might provoke some thought.
It's entirely likely that someone else already thought of similar things centuries ago.
I'm wondering how closely these thoughts match the opinions of others, but more important, I'm wondering how these thoughts DIFFER from the opinions of others...
I enjoy a good discussion.
While driving home from work, the thought occurred to me that I needed some basic rules to live by, having only loosely defined such previously.
Thus, I started thinking (possibly dangerous, but...).
And the first things to enter my mind were:
“There are no absolutes except this statement”.
And the famous phrase/words from the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The first is mostly self-explanatory,but the second prompted further thought.
Initially, I considered it from the angle of a hierarchy, with Life being paramount, Liberty being secondary, and the pursuit of Happiness being tertiary.
However, I soon realized that this did not fit into my personal opinion of “How Things Should Be”...if you will.
So I considered it further.
And my conclusion is that there is asomewhat complex network of both hierarchy and equality.
In short, those three inalienablerights are hierarchical on a personal level, and equal on ainter-personal level. If that's the right term.
My right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is equal to any other person's.
My right to life, however, trumps their right to liberty.
My right to liberty trumps their right to pursue happiness.
And vice versa.
X person, pursuing happiness, attemptsto have a law/regulation passed that restricts my liberty.
This is unacceptable.
However, if X person, to protect their life or the lives of others, attempts to pass a law/regulation that restricts my liberty.
It IS acceptable.
Now obviously, if we refer to my first thought, none of these guidelines are all-encompassing.
It is possible to go to far in defining a “threat” to the lives of those you are “protecting”.
Case in point, the current terrorism danger.
The argument that liberty must be sacrificed to protect life can only be taken so far.
Where the line is....
A clear-cut example of an acceptable infringement on liberty is the imprisonment of a rapist.
He/she forcefully suborned another person's liberty to their own, when the two are supposed to be equal.
Unacceptable, thus they lose their own liberty as punishment.
However, and this brings to mind a statement by Ben Franklin...
A digression here: While searching the interwebs for the precise quotation I was thinking of, I encountered this quote which is attributed to Ben Franklin, which neatly explains my own opinion/understanding of “pursuit of Happiness”.
“The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”
But to continue:
The quote I was thinking of is:
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty.”
It is this statement which defines, for me, the line which should not be crossed when limiting liberty.
My understanding from that is: If you settle for a temporarily safer situation at the expense of liberty, not only do cease to deserve either safety or liberty, but also you will lose that safety as well as your already surrendered liberty – in the long run, at least.
As another digression, I should note that I follow a few general guidelines when considering human beings.
Firstly, that they tend to take the short view rather than the long.
Secondly, and related or even identical in a way, that they tend to internally ignore/downplay the long-term consequences of actions which benefit them in the short term.
And third, that they are inherently illogical creatures.
Among many other things.
Based on these guidelines, along with my possibly inane mental meanderings, it becomes apparent (to me at least) that the entire political profession is based around manipulating those tendencies in one's constituents tostay in power.
Which, referring back to my previous thoughts, is a subornation of multiple individual’s liberties, or even lives, to the individual (or perhaps collective in some cases) politician's pursuit of happiness.
Again counter to my understanding of the DoI phrase.
I could go on.
But not now.
So the question is: Am I making sense, and: If not, where not?