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Friday, November 5, 2010

The Rights of Man

The Rights of Man was written by Thomas Paine in 1791 as a retort to Edmund Burke's criticism of the French Revolution. The Rights of Man not only defends the French Revolution, but states that revolution is necessary when a government fails its people. This, as you can imagine, was not well received by many governments at the time.

Long story short:
The bad thing about The Rights of Man is that it's kind of a bore to read after a bit. Mostly because it's repetitive. Other than that, it made me feel empowered- motivated to make a difference where I can. It is an inspiring call to arms that still rings true after all of this time. A lot of what is written feels like common sense- common sense that you never really thought about before. For example, people have rights. Pretty basic. However, when a government 'grants' you rights (gay marriage, anyone?) they are implying that somehow they have the power to give and take the things that should be considered basic freedoms in any truly civilized society.

Everyone has the right to be happy as long as they aren't hurting or oppressing other people, right? The government's job should be to protect that freedom, right? Then why are we letting them tell us what freedoms we can and cannot have? Is your government allowing you to have the freedoms you have a right to simply by being alive? Is it telling you which basic rights you can and cannot have? Are they a protective, uniting force or are they an oppressive, dividing force? These are the questions that The Rights of Man encourages you to consider.

This isn't the most entertaining thing I've ever read- however, it is one of the most inspiring. I think that everyone should have to read it as an adult, when you're old enough to appreciate it and consider the message behind it.

To steal and idea from a blogger friend of mine, I'm going to end this post with something I'm grateful for: I'm grateful that I live in a country where I can help choose who runs it and I'm allowed to think that they are all dipshits. I would have long ago been beheaded or punished in other countries. Thank you, United States of America! You are not perfect, but you are mine. And I'm grateful for that.

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