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Life or Liberty?

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A comment from my blog:

How odd, now…how so very odd…that I find myself painted into such a corner that I am called “intolerant” by merely promoting what I know MUST be the most fundamental right—the right to live, the right to life.
When this fundamental right is denied or cannot be comprehended, then avoidance is impossible, appeasement is futile, conflict inevitable. It is only a matter of time before we cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. When it comes, examine yourself very closely (because I certainly will be examining myself) to see on which side you should stand.
dhunley 10/11/05

It’s not to often that a comment gives me a moment’s pause and makes me examine my beliefs. I don’t just mean a quick fact check or a tweak to my way of thinking, but a real honest to goodness reevaluation of what I think. Hunley’s comment was one of those. For a few moments I was stumped.

If life is THE fundamental right that we posses, how can a person be pro-choice? How can a person support legalized euthanasia? For just a minute I was confused…

Then it hit me. I don’t believe Hunley is right.

Oh sure, life is important. I’m not sure I could write this if I were dead. Granted, maybe it’s possible if I got a hold of that John Edwards dude, but being the cynic that I am I won’t hold my breath for that. (Then again, if I’m dead, I don’t have any breath..never mind). So we have established that life is important – but life in and of itself is just a condition – it doesn’t mean anything in and of itself. Instead of “life” being the fundamental keystone of human existence, I think it is self-determination.

It dawned on me a little later that that may be a fundamental difference between the way conservatives (especially social conservatives) and liberals view the world. The distinction colors almost every aspect of our world view. Not recognizing this difference is one of the most divisive aspects in America today. Without understanding this philosophical difference, we might be talking to each other, but our mutual frames of reference are so different that we aren’t communicating.

Now when I originally started this little rant, it was intended to be a long piece going into the philosophical difference between the two sides. Instead, I think it should be more “food for thought” than an “all you can eat buffet of Cranky’s ego”. It’s something to think about and discuss more than it is for me to wax poetic about. However, I want to throw in a few of my thoughts to get the conversation started.

The focus on “life” is the focus on the wrong half of the equation. It is an over-simplistic slogan that does nothing to better the condition of mankind. I think that the “right” is dead wrong on this, and one of the reasons they are dangerous. Slaves are alive, but no one would argue that that is a life worth emulating. Being poverty-stricken and destitute is arguably a bit better than being a slave, but for many the difference is marginal. To focus on the fact that they are alive, is silly. They are not free. They have no ability to choose their destiny or take ownership of their life.

Without that ownership they exist but do not live. Without that self-determination they are brutalized victims devoid of hope. As we have seen time and time again, when people are without hope, without choice, the value of life plummets to almost nothing.

Instead, we need to focus on ensuring that people have the foundation necessary to control their own life, to make their own way. That includes the right to a decent education. That includes the right to decent health care. That includes the right to choose who they love, who they marry and IF they will have children. A person needs to have an opportunity to succeed regardless of his or her background, not in spite or because of it. Yes, they even the right to know when they have had enough and end your life on their own terms.

Without these things, at a minimum, a person can’t take control of her life. Try getting a good job when you were the victim of an inner-city education. Try raising a successful family when you can’t afford to take your kid to the doctor. Sure it CAN be done, but at what cost to society? How many kids end up in jail instead of college? How many more infants die here than need be because they lacked proper care? Try explaining to a terminal ill, pain-racked loved one why they have to suffer in day after day just to be “alive.”

It’s not enough to say you support the right to life. You have to support the right to a quality life. Our founders listed Liberty and Happiness along with life, because without those, life has little meaning. The freedom to live, the freedom to choose, the freedom to make your way in the world.

But what do you think – Life or Liberty? Sanctity of Life or the Quality in which you live it? It’s the question that divides us more than anything, but is there any hope of finding common ground? To me the choice is clear.
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About Cranky Liberal

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    The three fundamental rights are life, liberty and property. Happiness is just a code word thrown in there because of the potential implications of guaranteeing property ownership in the Delcaration of Independence.

    The three rights should really be considered completely equal in value, and each one should be considered absolute. No one has the right to take any of them away.

    Choice is a key element here as well. You can voluntarily choose to give up or abridge any of your rights, but that choice cannot be imposed on you involuntarily. Taking away that choice is tyrrany.

    So the right to life includes the right to choose to end that life. The right to liberty includes the right to trade that liberty away. The right to property includes the right to give some of that property up or trade it for other benefits. Basically these rights come down to controlling those specific aspects of life.

    >> That includes the right to a decent education. That includes the right to decent health care.<<

    These are not rights. This is the fallacy of the left, to try to add more rights to the basic three. The right to liberty gives you the right to pursue or obtain education if it is available, it does not guarantee a right to be educated. The right to life includes the right to seek medical treatment on an equal basis with anyone else. It does not guarantee free medical treatment for all. The right to property gives you the right to own property, but it does not give you the actual property just because you want it.

    Dave

  • Cunning linguist

    So let me get this straight cracky…. you want to abort babies because there may not be a garentee that thier lives will be al sunshines and lollipops? because no one can garentee them a happy life with financial security? is that what’ you’re saying?

    The second part of your argument is pure left wing rhetoric. It is everyone’s responsibility to take care of the needs of everyone else and if I am pro life I must then take responsibility for every baby that could have been aborted but wasn’t.

    The way I see it is that either you vlue life or you don’t cranky. I value the lives of the people I work with enough not to kill them but doing this doesn’t make me responsible for the quality of thier lives cranky. It’s called individual responsibility and I know it’s a novel idea to you and your leftist cronies.

    Ahh you might say but children can’t help themselves and we must help them. I agree. We must help children whose parents are too stupid, lazy or apthetic to help them. This however should not be done by rewarding those lazy apethetic parents with more and more handouts despite thier refusal to do anything themselves to better their lives or the lives of their children. Most approaches favored by liberals do nothing but exactly what I just said.

    NOw back to the original point and the differences betwene liberals and conservatives.. You believe certain babies should be aborted because they might not be born into the best possible situations, mercy killings in your eyes. Therein lies the distinction between liberals and conservatives. Liberals believe everyone is entitled to the same quality of life regardless of the effort one put’s forth into establishing their quality of life. Liberals also believe that it is primarily the government’s responsibility to balance the equation for those who cannot attain the quality of life that they are “entitled” to by taking away from the quality of life of those who have made the effort to obtain higher levels of quality of life. Conservatives on the other hand believe that people msut be accountable for thier own lives and not rely on handouts.

    Abort babies because there are no garantees? I say no because there are no garentees for any of us cranky and life is precious. Are you going to suggest we start euthinizing babies born with genetic diseases such as Down’s Syndrome in your next post.

    I believe a humane society/government has an obligation to help those who cannot help themselves such as children and the handicapped, however society has no obligation to ensure that everyone’s life is perfect, or that everyone can have everything they want just because they feel they are entitled to it cranky. That’s the difference between liberals and conservatives.

  • http://www.crankyliberal.com The Cranky Liberal

    Please stick to what I wrote. Did I say that certain babies should be aborted? No. Did I say that because their life wasn’t going to be great they should be aborted? No. My name isn’t Bill Bennet.

    Who said anything about euthanizing babies? Me? No. Nope once again you have attached a straw man argument on top of what I said and attacked that, instead of addressing the real point – life without self determination and liberty isn’t much of a life.

    Handout to lazy poor people? Let me tell you pal, my mother was far from lazy, far from stupid, and a damn site better mommy than most people ever have. She worked her ass off to keep a roof over my head and food on the table. If it wasn’t for scholarships and government assistance I wouldn’t have been able to go to college. Was that hand out to a lazy person, or an investment in the future? When I was able to go to a Cleveland Public School that had an honors program (paid for by tax payers who understood the value of a good education) was that just another welfare program for lazy worthless people, or a way to give people the tools they need to succeed in life.

    Thanks for taking the time to write. That does take some effort and thought. Maybe next time you will stick to what I WROTE, and not what you WANT me to have written. Don’t they teach reading comprehension in Right to Life school?

  • Nancy

    This also gets in to “your rights end where mine begin,” as well as a phrase I wish the Founders had put in to balance the “rights”, namely, that of concomitant responsibility. You have rights – but ONLY if you are willing to accept the responsibilities that go with them. Almost everyone ignores that part, because the idiots who approved the bill of rights & constitution couldn’t envision people who could or would think about one without automatically accepting the other.

  • Justin Berry

    I thought I was a conservative but now Im not sure. I am pro-life in that I dont believe in abortion because I cant read the sunday classifieds without professional people wanting to adopt babies in every other add.
    Iam pro-death penalty because “Yes, they even the right to know when they have had enough and end your life on their own terms.”(Cranky Liberal circa 2005)
    I am pro-euthanasia because I honestly believe there are worse things than death. I dont trust anyone else to make that decision for me so I have had the forethought to draw a will with instructions on when and when not to “pull the plug”.
    So tell me cranky am I still conserative?

  • Justin Berry

    I thought I was a conservative but now Im not sure. I am pro-life in that I dont believe in abortion because I cant read the sunday classifieds without professional people wanting to adopt babies in every other add.
    Iam pro-death penalty because “Yes, they even the right to know when they have had enough and end your life on their own terms.”(Cranky Liberal circa 2005)
    I am pro-euthanasia because I honestly believe there are worse things than death. I dont trust anyone else to make that decision for me so I have had the forethought to draw a will with instructions on when and when not to “pull the plug”.
    So tell me cranky am I still conserative?

  • Nancy

    Well, then you’re just human. I really think that very few people are entirely “liberal” or “conservative” on every single issue right down the line. I myself swing wildly, depending on the issue, from left of Karl Marx to right of Attila the Hun. All over the map. It’s normal.

  • http://dianahartman.blogspot.com/ diana hartman

    before reading the comments i want to respond to the article…
    point well made…
    the “success” of the iraq war has been repeatedly summed up with the not quite 2,000 deaths while the almost 15,000 wounded have been largely ignored…many of these injuries have been life-altering and life-draining not only for the injured but for those who care for them and care about them…

    i’m not a religious person…i can’t fathom why someone who is would put so much emphasis on that which is thought to be a time of coming and going rather than all there is ever…

    “Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved.”
    -Mark Twain

  • http://dianahartman.blogspot.com/ diana hartman

    Choice is a key element here as well. You can voluntarily choose to give up or abridge any of your rights, but that choice cannot be imposed on you involuntarily. Taking away that choice is tyrrany.

    and yet we apply the right to life with cafeteria style when drawing up laws per capital punishment, the right to die, and failed suicide attempts…

    It is everyone’s responsibility to take care of the needs of everyone else and if I am pro life I must then take responsibility for every baby that could have been aborted but wasn’t.

    what action on your part has manifested itself as a result of taking responsibilty for every baby that wasn’t aborted? how have the children born benefitted from your action?

    We must help children whose parents are too stupid, lazy or apthetic to help them. This however should not be done by rewarding those lazy apethetic parents with more and more handouts despite thier refusal to do anything themselves to better their lives or the lives of their children.

    how do you help the children? personally or as a society, how do you help the children?

    Liberals believe everyone is entitled to the same quality of life regardless of the effort one put’s forth into establishing their quality of life. Liberals also believe that it is primarily the government’s responsibility to balance the equation for those who cannot attain the quality of life that they are “entitled” to by taking away from the quality of life of those who have made the effort to obtain higher levels of quality of life.

    i am a liberal and i don’t believe either of these assertions…moving on:

    Conservatives on the other hand believe that people msut be accountable for thier own lives and not rely on handouts.

    what do conservatives think should be done to help the children born of bad parents? how do conservatives take responsibility for the children not aborted?

    I believe a humane society/government has an obligation to help those who cannot help themselves such as children and the handicapped, however society has no obligation to ensure that everyone’s life is perfect, or that everyone can have everything they want just because they feel they are entitled to it cranky.

    so society has an obligation but to help but that doesn’t necessarily mean an action of any kind? if it does, what action?

    You have rights – but ONLY if you are willing to accept the responsibilities that go with them. Almost everyone ignores that part, because the idiots who approved the bill of rights & constitution couldn’t envision people who could or would think about one without automatically accepting the other.

    this acceptance of responsibility extends even to kids?
    the “idiots” who approved the bill of rights and constitution didn’t include or even consider the plights much less the rights of children — or non-whites or females…our forefathers were human beings (and a wee bit sexist and racist); they were not gods with the gift of infallibility…

  • Winston Jen

    Social conservatives are basically social dictators. They want to force their way of living onto everyone else. They do so in a very inconsistent and hypocritical way, from what I have observed.

    They want a lawless market, in other words, they want social liberal policies applied to corporations, so that they can make money any way they can, regardless of whose toes they step on.

    A totally lawless markets encourages too many abuses and harms.

    I am in favour of abortion because I do not believe that society (or any religious groups) has the right to force women to carry a pregnancy to term. As an analogy, let me say that blood donations and organ donations are not mandated in order to to save lives (although I support an opt-out system where all dead people automatically become organ donors unless they declare beforehand that they do not wish to donate. However, those that do not wish to donate should not be allowed to receive organs).

  • steve

    dave nalle, I enjoyed your first post. way to hit the nail on the head!