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When Right Becomes Wrong
How capitalism moved our moral compass
Welcome to my latest post, and thanks for clicking the link to check it out. It’s been a week fraught with news items that have left me feeling quite bewildered, and I’m sure the same goes for you too. This is where I process what’s going on in the world so if you would like each edition to drop directly into your email inbox as soon as it’s released, please do subscribe by clicking this link….
When I was growing up, while justifying a spat with my older brother, which happened regularly, my Mum would wag her finger and say,
Two wrongs don’t make a right
It didn’t take a lot to disagree; the logic was clear.
However, when I started to learn maths, I discovered that two minuses make a plus, yet two pluses don’t make a minus. Somehow I managed to get my head around that too.
And yet here we are, faced with the blatant misuse of rights, resulting in abhorrent wrongs.
There are two main categories of ‘rights’
Human Rights (moral principles protected by international law)
The Right to life
The Right to freedom from torture
The Right to equal treatment
The Right to privacy
The Right to asylum
The Right to marry
The Right to freedom of thought, opinion and expression
The Right to work
Natural Rights (universal, not dependent on laws of any particular culture or government)
Life and liberty
Property and ownership
Independent thought and speech
Socialisation and relationships
Personal beliefs and values
As you can see, they aren’t vastly different. According to the UN, human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Everyone is entitled to these rights without discrimination. Natural rights are developed more from a philosophical standpoint but still arrive at a similar place. According to Cambridge University Press, natural rights are rights to life, liberty, and property. In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson stated that our natural rights were Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
And it’s this last one that seems to have muddied the waters - the pursuit of happiness.
Over the last decade or so, happiness has topped the charts for the pursuit of man. Once it was survival, then a healthy life, but all that is a given now. We can see our progression through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
We have lived with privilege and peace for so long that we have taken our basic needs for granted, and as is in our nature, the pursuit for more has become fuelled by a society driven by power and money. Yes, society has always been driven by power, but we can all see over the last 30 years since the advent of the internet that the hunger across the great majority is to have more, to have what we want, and to have it now. Remember Veruca Salt? We thought her attitude was so ugly back then ….
Credit has been readily available to most for years now, the 2008 credit crunch put a few hurdles in our paths, but still, the damage was done. It made way for us to have what we wanted when we wanted it: new cars, new TVs, new sofas on 0% finance. We didn’t need to be patient and save any longer or make things last for longer - we could get credit!
I remember listening to a radio show a few years ago, shortly after the credit crunch, and the conversation was around getting financial aid from the government. One woman phoned in and said she was out of work and signed up for benefits despite having thousands saved for their family holiday. The presenter questioned the ethics of this, and she replied, ‘But it’s my right to have a holiday!’
Where am I going with this?
When I watch Boris and his mates wriggle their way around semantics, saying ‘We didn’t break the rules’ (which we can see they did), I can’t help but see a lack of moral code, but instead, the selfish capitalist mindset of ‘I can have what I want’.
And my mind boggles when I see the Americans fighting over their right to have guns in the face of yet another school and community devastated by gun crime.
In 2020, more than 45,000 Americans died by gunshot - BBC World News
Just because it’s a Right, doesn’t make it right.
Isn’t it time to re-evaluate?
When driving down a narrow road, if I have the right of way, I still say thank you to the car waiting. Just because it’s my right, doesn’t mean I matter more than the other person. Isn’t life better when we consider each other? Let’s say Boris and his mates didn’t break any ‘rules’, was it empathetic toward the British public to be raising glasses in government buildings when everyone else was staying at home, and people were dying without their families being allowed to be by their side? And when it’s your right to protect your property with a gun, and that gun gets misused time and time and time again to kill innocent children, isn’t it time to re-evaluate?
We can’t wait for our government to reset our moral code, particularly when they are sending emails congratulating themselves on ‘getting away with it’. Like a rear-wheel-drive car, it’s time to push from the back. If we turn together, we might just create a ripple effect somewhere along the road. Something has to change.