Human Rights, and What’s Wrong with Them

1 January 2021

Jeff McCarty

We have come quite a way as a species. How most human beings live today is vastly different than the lives that our ancestors lived when our species was first finding its way. How we sustain our lives, and the sheer abundance of the modern world would be more than enough to mesmerize a human being who lived during the hunter and gather phase or even during the early agricultural phase. Though the path we endeavored upon as a species to obtain the prosperity we have has come at a cost, we can see that we have gained many things from taking the path we have.

As time has worn on, we have become more accustomed to having certain commodities that a human living during the hunter and gatherer phase or early agricultural phase of humanity would not have enjoyed. The portions of the world that have experienced life without many of the commodities that make up our modern existence is continually decreasing. For example, in places like China, we have what are the first generations who are being born to a more affluent China than their parents would have experienced. This is just one example, but we can see this trend across the globe when we zoom out enough and gaze back at humanity’s historical record.

With the preconditioning of having access to certain commodities since birth, more and more humans are realizing that there are things a human must have access to if they are to consider themselves living a modernized life. On the aggregate, humans tend to believe they are special (and who knows maybe we are), so naturally, we have adopted a term that distinguishes our special need and right to have certain commodities in our lives. This is the term Human Rights.

Many things have become Human Rights as time has continued. Now many things that are considered Human Rights are things that every human being should have access to and that I have advocated for throughout previous posts. What we must realize though is that things that are now considered Human Rights, such as access to the Internet, are things that humans would have never considered a basic right for humans to have in earlier eras. Even a concept such as Universal HealthCare which today is also seen as a Human Right was considered a luxury to our long-gone ancestors.

By no means am I advocating against the root concept of Human Rights, what I am advocating for though is a different set of terms to reference these concepts by. When we use the term Right, it indicates that we deserve these items without a doubt. It makes sense that this was at first the term used. Humans who existed in a time where basic things such as freedom of speech, assemble, protest, or even just basic freedom from slavery was is constant tension and never guaranteed would have used this term to illustrate how dire a necessity it was for these and other freedoms to be provided to all humans regardless of any characteristic that another may judge them by.

We have reached a point in Western Civilization where these freedoms have become the status quo. What can make this dangerous is new generations have never known a situation where society is actively working to take away their freedoms and will feel that Human Rights are in themselves Rights that would never be taken away from the people. Essentially people may begin to take them for granted, which could leave these freedoms defenseless to a person or group who is looking to implement an authoritarian rule.

Some may regard this as farfetched. Some may feel that this has already happened. For myself, I feel that there is still hope to change our perception of these freedoms in a way that reminds us that they are never permanent and that we must constantly work to ensure they are implemented for all humans. We would do this by switching just one word. Instead of Rights, I propose we use the term privileges.

The use of the term privilege in place of the term rights is what will allow humanity to cherish the freedoms that we have discovered are instrumental for every human being to access. Though I believe that every human being deserves the privilege of life and liberty, I would never use the term Rights, for nothing is ever guaranteed in existence.

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